John Lewis escapes plantation Clinton; endorses Obama

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Hat Tip: Atlanta Journal Constitution

WASHINGTON — Hoping to put an end to a month of confusion and dismay, Rep. John Lewis on Wednesday said he’s switching his support from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Lewis cited the overwhelming preference for Obama in his district as a reason for his change of heart, but he also talked about Obama’s campaign as transformational for the nation.

“Something’s happening in America, something some of us did not see coming,” Lewis said. “Barack Obama has tapped into something that is extraordinary.

Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and an elder of the civil rights movement, at first sparked outrage from Georgia’s African American community by backing Clinton, a friend, over Obama, the nation’s first viable African American candidate.

Then confusion struck about a week ago when Lewis told the New York Times that, as a super delegate to the Democratic National Convention, he would feel compelled to vote for Obama as the nominee because his district – and the state’s African American population overall – so overwhelmingly for Obama in the state primary.

Lewis’s office later charged that the story was inaccurate but did not clarify who Lewis was actually backing.

In an interview in his congressional office, Lewis said the decision to switch his support was a difficult one, a choice between a longtime friend and a little-known black man.

“I did it because I felt I had to support Mrs. Clinton because of our friendship,” Lewis said. “But also I thought she was ready to lead. Lewis had placed a called to Clinton’s office Wednesday morning but hadn’t heard back from her. He also had a Please-Return-The-Call message of his own from Obama. By midday, he still hadn’t returned it.

“It’s been a long, hard and difficult struggle to come to where I am now,” Lewis said.