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Prominent Clinton backer defects to Obama

Latest update : 2008-02-28

A figure from the Civil Rights Movement and Democratic superdelegate who had previously rooted for Hillary Clinton is now supporting Barack Obama, saying the move reflects the will of his constitutents.

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia
Democrat and an icon of the U.S. civil rights movement,
switched his support on Wednesday from Hillary Clinton to
Barack Obama for his party's presidential nomination.

Making the announcement just days before the crucial
Democratic primaries in Ohio and Texas, Lewis noted that his
constituents back Obama, an Illinois senator, and that it was
his "duty ... to express the will of the people."

Clinton had hoped that Lewis, a black who was severely
beaten during civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, would
help her win the support of black voters. If he wins the White
House, Obama would be the first black U.S. president.

Previously, Lewis said he was supporting Clinton, a New
York senator, for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Something is happening in America," Lewis said in a
statement explaining his shift. "The people are pressing for a
new day in American politics and I think they see Sen. Barack
Obama as a symbol of that change."

Lewis' announcement added to a series of campaign setbacks
for Clinton, who once was considered the likely Democratic
nominee for president.

Clinton has lost a string of state nominating contests to
Obama since Feb. 5, as well as some key endorsements from
organized labor. She also has had to borrow money from her
private accounts to keep the campaign running.

In the meantime, Clinton has been trying to tamp down
questions about dropping out of the race if she does not score
resounding victories on March 4 in Texas and Ohio, two large

Lewis, saying his decision was a difficult one, said he has
a "deep and abiding love for both Sen. Clinton and President
(Bill) Clinton."

Date created : 2008-02-28