Friday, June 6, 2008 | 8:40 a.m.
WASHINGTON -- If there were any lingering doubts about who Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would endorse as the party's presidential nominee, he put them to rest early this morning by announcing the inevitable: He would endorse Sen. Barack Obama.
Reid had remained steadfastly neutral in the race, saying he needed to be able to look in the eye the returning senators from the field of colleagues running, and say he had been fair.
But as pressure mounted for the party to unite behind a candidate as Obama outpaced rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Reid urged remaining super-delegates to lay their cards on the table by Friday _ and promised to lead by example.
This morning he delivered, endorsing Obama as a "once-in-a-generation leader."
Here's the full statement:
"Over the past 16 months, tens of millions of Americans from all walks of life have been inspired to support Barack Obama's historic campaign for President, and with good reason: he is a once-in-a-generation leader who connects with the hopes and dreams of the American people and will deliver the long-overdue change that our country desperately needs. I could not be more excited to have Senator Obama lead a united Democratic Party to victory in November and I am committed to doing everything I can to help.
"I also congratulate Hillary Clinton for her tremendous contributions in this campaign and for our country. She is a wonderful Senator and friend whose vision and determination have made our party stronger. There is no question that she will continue to be a force for change.
"As we turn to the general election, it is obvious that John McCain will try to rewrite his record and divorce himself from the disastrous Bush-Cheney policies he supports. But his record is clear. John McCain has the wrong judgment and temperament to be President, and we cannot afford any more of the same mistakes that have weakened our country and made us less secure.
"As our next President, Barack Obama will responsibly end the war in Iraq, make the American Dream affordable for working families once again, and deliver a government as good and honest as the people it represents. I look forward to working with him - and an expanded Democratic majority in Congress - to deliver this promise of change to the American people."
Earlier in the week, Reid had some friendly advice for the senator. On Wednesday, Reid mentioned he had spoken to Obama, who returned to the Senate to vote after having secured the delegates necessary to make him the nominee in the party's final primary contests the night before.
"Here is a little inside presidential politics," Reid said during a meeting with Nevada lawmakers. Reid said he told the senator, "Barack, you have a half hour some time, spend some time with me, I'll tell you how to deliver a speech."