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CAMPAIGN '08: MAKING DECISIONS

Obama gets backing of Sen. Leahy

January 18, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama on Thursday.

"We need a president who can reintroduce America to the world and actually reintroduce America to ourselves," Leahy told reporters in a conference call.

"I believe Barack Obama is the best person to do that."

The Vermont senator's endorsement gives Obama, of Illinois, the backing of eight Democratic senators, compared with 11 for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Many Democratic senators have held off on public endorsements in the presidential race, in part because the field is crowded with Democratic Senate colleagues and former Democratic senators.

More endorsements could follow now that Sens. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware have dropped out.

Still, besides Obama and Clinton, former Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Mike Gravel of Alaska remain in the race.

Leahy, 67, was elected to the Senate in 1974 and presides over the committee's hearings on nominations to the Supreme Court and the Justice Department.

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