WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut plans to endorse former presidential rival Barack Obama.
Dodd will endorse his colleague, a senator from Illinois, in Cleveland on Tuesday, according to a Democratic official close to Dodd who requested anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
Dodd’s support, coupled with his liberal credentials, could provide a boost for Obama as major contests near in big states such as Ohio and Texas on March 4. Obama has won some key Democratic endorsements in recent weeks, including Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, a close friend of Dodd.
Much sought-after support
Obama and rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had been vying for Dodd’s support since he exited the presidential race after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus last month. Dodd, who won his Senate seat in 1980 and chaired the Democratic National Committee from 1995-1996, has long-standing ties to the Clintons.
Dodd is a “superdelegate,” one of nearly 800 Democratic officeholders and party officials who automatically attend the national convention and can vote for whomever they choose. They have become an important force in the close race between Clinton and Obama, and both candidates are lobbying hard for their support.
During the campaign, Dodd cast himself as an experienced leader who unites people. He stressed his long Senate career, foreign policy experience and work on education and children’s issues. But his long-shot candidacy, overshadowed by the huge campaign accounts and star power of Clinton and Obama, never caught fire.
Still, Dodd’s popularity with liberal voters could benefit Obama on both domestic and foreign policy issues.
Dodd voted in 2002 to authorize military intervention in Iraq, but has become an outspoken critic of the war and now calls his vote a mistake. He has said he would oppose an escalation of U.S. forces in Iraq and has said Congress should consider withholding funding for such a troop increase.
Dodd also could help Obama with Hispanic voters. A fluent Spanish speaker, Dodd served in the Peace Corps in a rural village in Dominican Republic from 1966-68 and has had a strong interest in Latin American affairs throughout his career.
Since his election to the House in 1974, Dodd has forged strong ties with labor unions, tried impose fiscal accountability on corporations and championed family and children’s issues. He chairs the powerful Senate Banking Committee.
Dodd was the chief Senate sponsor of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or to tend to a personal or family illness.
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