There are endorsements, then there are endorsements. And this one has to hurt Hillary Clinton.
The National Abortion Rights Action League's Pro-Choice America political action committee, which has steadfastly backed Clinton throughout her political career, gave its blessing today to Barack Obama.
The Associated Press is reporting that NARAL's political committee board was divided between Clinton and Obama supporters, but eventually voted unanimously to support the Illinois senator.
NARAL officials said they were not snubbing Clinton, who is seeking to be the first female president, but rather an acknowledgement that Obama is likely to be the nominee and that there is a growing rift between black voters and white female activists, the AP reported.
NARAL president Nancy Keenan said in a statement: "Today, we are proud to put our organization's grass-roots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Senator Obama."
UPDATE: "There are few more tireless defenders of womenís rights in this country than NARAL Pro-Choice America and Iím proud to accept their support," Obama said in a statement. "For decades, they have worked in the courthouse, in the legislature, and in the streets to make sure that women have the right to choose. This is a fundamental civil right that I've fought to protect in Illinois and in Washington, thatís being threatened by Senator McCain, and that I'll be fighting in the months ahead to make secure today, tomorrow, and always."
UPDATE: Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said he was surprised by the NARAL endorsement, the AP reported. And another key abortion rights group criticized NARAL's decision.
Ellen R. Malcolm, president of EMILY's List, which raises money for like-minded female candidates, issued a statement: "I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Sen. Clinton - who held up the nomination of a FDA commissioner in order to force approval of Plan B and who spoke so eloquently during the Supreme Court nomination about the importance of protecting Roe vs. Wade - to not give her the courtesy to finish the final three weeks of the primary process. It certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.