Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama shares a laugh with Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut during their news conference in Cleveland, where Dodd endorsed Obama, his former rival, in the Democratic presidential race. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In endorsing Barack Obama today, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut cited Obama's tremendous following and his appeal beyond traditional Democratic voters.
"It goes beyond just the issues," Dodd said in an appearance with Obama this morning in Cleveland, according to a transcript provided by Obama's campaign. "The candidates bring something else that transcends particular points of view on questions and that is their ability to reach and touch the hearts and souls of Americans. And Barack Obama has done that in my view."
Dodd called the excitement around Obama "unprecedented, really, in almost a generation, maybe longer."
Though Dodd frequently cited his long experience in Washington while a presidential candidate himself -- and at times criticizing Obama's relatively thin resume -- he said that wasn't the only asset that matters.
"While experience, I think, is valuable, it isnít just experience," Dodd said. "It's maturity, it's judgment, it's balance, it's the ability to speak in a way that touches people that I think people are looking for in the national leadership this time around."
Obama said he was hoping for a civil tone at tonight's debate with Clinton (MSNBC, 9 p.m.) in Cleveland. "We want to make sure that we remind ourselves we're both trying out for quarterback, but we're on the same team," he said.
Obama also addressed charges made by his campaign yesterday that Clinton staffers had circulated a photo of him -- wearing Somali garb during a 2006 trip to Africa -- meant to damage his campaign.
"Certainly I donít think that photograph was circulated to enhance my candidacy, I think that is fair to say," he said. "Do I think it is reflective of Senator Clintonís approach to the campaign? Probably not. And so at this point, my interest is just moving forward and talking about the issues that are going to be helpful for the people of Ohio."