Sharpton Endorses Kerry But Stays in Race

He met with presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry and has endorsed the Massachusetts senator.

“I informed him that I think that clearly he has won the nomination, and as I have stated during the race I would support the nominee,” Sharpton told reporters after his meeting with Kerry. “It would be bad strategically and bad for the country to engage in continuing to attack or in any way differentiate with him during the primaries remaining. It would only help George Bush.”

Kerry praised Sharpton’s decision, saying it would help strengthen the party in the general election ahead.

“I welcome his endorsement and thank him for helping to unify the Democratic Party toward our common goal: to beat George Bush in November and put America back on the right track,” Kerry said in a statement. “I thank Reverend Sharpton for his endorsement and look forward to working with him and all Democrats in the months ahead.”

Sharpton currently has 26 delegates out of the 2,162 needed to secure the nomination. According to the Associated Press, Kerry has garnered support from 2,194.

Sharpton entered the race with the goal of energizing minority voters and campaigning on urban concerns, poverty, education and health care.

“If we come out of this being able to impact the platform, impact black standing in the party and have an impact in terms of helping Kerry win, then we have achieved the goals that we set out,” Sharpton said.

Although considered by many to be an engaging and outspoken figure during the Democratic debates, Sharpton failed to succeed in the polls. His best finish was a distant second place in Washington, D.C., and he only won 8.1 percent of the vote in his home state of New York.

His campaign also had financial problems. The Federal Election Commission fined Sharpton $5,500 in February for filing late disclosure reports and has questioned more than $80,000 in loans Sharpton has made to his campaign. Critics also questioned Sharpton’s stays in $1,000-a-night hotels. His campaign is roughly $600,000 in debt.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is now the only remaining candidate actively challenging Kerry for the Democratic nomination. Kerry plans on declaring victory after Tuesday’s Illinois primary.