Following Dodd’s departure, DeLauro endorses Obama

In a blow to the campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, New Haven Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro announced over the weekend that with Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd out of the race, she is throwing her support behind Sen. Barack Obama in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary.

The endorsement came as the race in the Constitution State has tightened in recent weeks. Despite enjoying comfortable double-digit leads throughout all of 2007, Clinton is now locked in a dead heat with Obama, according to two recent surveys of state Democrats.

DeLauro made the announcement Saturday morning outside her home, only three days before tomorrow’s primary. With her endorsement, she joins a handful of other Connecticut politicians who are supporting Obama, including New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Congressmen John Larson and Chris Murphy, both of whom announced their support for the Illinois legislator Thursday.

“I wanted to be home today because all important things begin at home, and this election for president could not be more important,” DeLauro said during her announcement. “That’s why I wanted to be here on my porch to announce that I will support Barack Obama for president of the United States.”

The endorsement may have come as a surprise to some familiar with DeLauro’s political pedigree — her husband, Stanley Greenberg, served as a pollster in the administration of former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73.

In making the announcement, DeLauro cited Obama’s commitments to end the war in Iraq, boost the economy and improve access to health care by making it more affordable as reasons for backing Obama. She also noted their similarities: She began her career as a community organizer in the Hill neighborhood in New Haven, and Obama did the same in Chicago.

But DeLauro explained her support for Obama in terms that harkened back to the 1960s, when, she said, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to come together to serve the country. She urged her constituents to accept the same challenge today.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I felt compelled to join,” she said. “And I urge all my neighbors in Connecticut to join with Barack Obama in creating this New Frontier.”

Despite DeLauro’s endorsement, Clinton still has significant support in Connecticut. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Comptroller Nancy Wyman have both endorsed Clinton, and recent polls suggest a neck-and-neck race in the Nutmeg State.

A Feb. 1 poll by Survey USA showed Obama leading 48 to 44 percent, but an American Research Group Poll released Friday showed Clinton ahead, 48 to 35 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

Prior to running for Congress, DeLauro served as the first executive director of EMILY’s List, which aims to elect female Democrats who support abortion rights to political office. Ellen Malcolm, the founder and president of EMILY’s List, was in Connecticut campaigning for Clinton on Sunday.

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