Posted: April 29, 2008 1:59 PM
Clinton Gets N.C. Boost from Gov. Mike Easley
Although Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama enjoys a lead in the polls in the largest remaining primary contest — North Carolina — rival Sen. Hillary Clinton Tuesday received a key endorsement from the state’s popular governor, Michael Easley.
Appearing with his wife and the New York senator, Easley spoke to a small crowd in Raleigh, N.C., describing the candidate as having “a passion for improving the lives of all Americans.”
“I know she will get to work immediately making education and the economy her top priorities for our nation. She is ready to lead our country and has the ability to deliver,” Easley said.
While Easley doesn’t carry the field organization or financial backing that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell provided, Easley’s endorsement could help sway white, blue-collar voters in the state, which holds its primary next Tuesday.
“Easley is popular among blue collar ‘Bubba’ voters who are Democrats,” Democratic consultant advisor David “Mudcat” Saunders told Politico’s Ben Smith and David Paul Kuhn. Saunders also previously advised former Democratic candidate John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator.
The endorsement also helps Clinton’s argument for super delegate support as she tries to prove herself the more electable candidate among moderates and swing voters. Easley’s support has also raised speculations about an Edwards endorsement. Easley previously endorsed Edwards, and was heavily courted by both camps since his candidate left the race.
Still, a recent polling average by RealClearPolitics.com has Obama leading Clinton 50 percent to 37 percent in North Carolina. About one third of the state’s primary electorate is expected to be African-American, a demographic that Obama carries by 90 percent.
Clinton is hoping Easley’s support will help widen her appeal among yet undecided voters, and she expressed her gratitude for his vote.
“I am honored to have the support of Governor Easley, whose vision and persistence have made higher education affordable and accessible for North Carolinians,” she said in accepting his endorsement, according to her campaign Web site. “I look forward to working with him in our efforts to turn around the economy and rebuild the middle class.”