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Published: March 18, 2008 11:09 pm    print this story   comment on this story  

Murtha backing Hillary Clinton

BY MIKE FAHER
The Tribune-Democrat

U.S. Rep. John Murtha on Tuesday announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, saying she is “best qualified to lead our nation.”

The Johnstown Democrat’s announcement comes as both Clinton and Democratic front-runner Barack Obama set up shop in Pennsylvania in preparation for the state’s important April 22 primary.

“I’ve known Sen. Clinton for 15 years,” Murtha said in a statement released by his campaign committee.

“I know that she continually reaches out for opinions and ideas, not just from our nation’s leaders, but from all Americans.”

Murtha is one of the most powerful Democrats in the House, and his endorsement could carry weight in the 12th Congressional District, where he has served for 34 years.

His backing carries added importance this year because he is a “superdelegate” – a party official who is free to support any candidate at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Because the race between Clinton and Obama is so close, some speculate that superdelegates may play an important role in deciding the party’s nominee.

Clinton said in a release Tuesday night that she is pleased with Murtha’s endorsement.

“I am honored to have the support of a leader as strong, well-respected and experienced as Congressman John Murtha,” Clinton said. “I have known John for years, and he is a fighter and a man of principle who has unmatched credibility on matters vital to our national security.”

Last month, Murtha said he would not choose sides in the race and pledged to be “very careful in my evaluation of both candidates.”

In Tuesday’s statement, Murtha offered a glowing endorsement of Clinton.

“In 10 months, President Bush will leave office. Our country is worse off today than when he took office over seven years ago,” Murtha said. “Senator Clinton is the candidate that will forge a consensus on health care, education, the economy and the war in Iraq.”

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