Robert Byrd, the dean of Democrats in the US Senate, announced today that he will support Barack Obama, calling him a "shining young statesman" who can extricate the country from the Iraq war.
Byrd did not endorse before last week's primary in his home state of West Virginia, which Hillary Clinton won, but said he decided to make his allegiance public because of the continuing toll in Iraq.
"As people all across this great nation know, I have been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Bush Administration’s misguided war in Iraq and its saber rattling around the globe," Byrd said in a statement issued by the Obama campaign.
"With the Bush Administration's latest request to fund this on-going war in Iraq without any attempt to start bringing our troops home, the issue of the upcoming presidential contest has been weighing heavily on my heart. The loss of life continues and the sons and daughters of tens of thousands of American families remain in harm’s way every day."
UPDATE: Obama also announced the endorsement of another superdelegate, Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, who praised Obama's reach into traditionally Republican states.
“Kansans can unite behind Sen. Obama and his positive campaign, and that is why I have chosen to endorse him,” Gates said in a statement. “He has proven his ability to bring Democrats, Republicans and Independents together, and holds the same commitment to working across party lines as Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius," he said, naming someone on many pundits' list of possible vice presidential picks.
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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.