It took a long time coming, but that made it all the sweeter when it finally happened: John Edwards has endorsed Barack Obama for president:
“The reason I am here tonight is because the Democratic voters of America have made their choice and so have I,” Mr Edwards said.
Mr. Edwards then went on to say, “There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to tear down that wall and make one America, Barack Obama.”
Unfortunately, the Edwards endorsement isn't a package deal:
The Edwards endorsement, though, is singular. Elizabeth Edwards is not scheduled to add her voice to the growing Democratic chorus rallying behind Mr. Obama’s campaign.
Publicly, Mrs. Edwards has said that she favors Mrs. Clinton’s health care plan. Privately, she has told several associates she is unsure if Mr. Obama is the party’s best candidate.
But having John Edwards' endorsement, late though it may be, still helps Obama immensely. It underlines his status as the presumptive nominee, and may give him a much-needed boost with working class white voters heading into Kentucky's primary next Tuesday, where polls show him losing badly to Clinton much as he did in West Virginia.
So why the wait? Reportedly, despite the fact that he liked and respected Obama, Edwards had reservations about Obama's lack of experience and questioned whether or not he was ready to be president. But he may have also been hedging his bets in order not to alienate Hillary Clinton in case she ended up winning the nomination. Edwards has publicly denied having any interest in being vice-president or a member of either candidate's hypothetical cabinet, but that's not what he's been saying privately:
But privately, he told aides that he would consider the role of vice president, and favored the position of attorney general, which would appeal to his experience of decades spent in courtrooms as a trial lawyer in North Carolina; and his desire to follow in the footsteps of Robert F. Kennedy, one of his heroes.
John Edwards was a great presidential candidate who had the misfortune of running against two well-funded political titans. He would have been my second choice if Obama had left the race, and almost became my first choice on a few occasions. I'd love to see him as Obama's running mate, because I think they complement each other so well, but unfortunately I think that Obama's going to need to pick someone who can help him unify the party - probably a woman, and possibly a Clinton loyalist. But the role of attorney general is one that Edwards may be even better suited for, and he'd certainly be the best attorney general we've had in this country for decades.
Edwards' endorsement doesn't end this race, but it's one more piece of a puzzle that has almost been put together. The big question in my mind is whether this opens the floodgates for a surge of superdelegate endorsements over the next few days. They've been coming in pretty steadily over the last couple of weeks, but now perhaps the pace will begin to pick up a bit. The sooner, the better.