Senator Tom Harkin says he’s been "very sensitive" to the "passions" of Hillary Clinton’s supporters — a group that includes his wife and that’s one reason why he announced his endorsement of Barack Obama today. Last night, Obama secured the number of delegates necessary to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and Harkin joined seven other U.S. senators who’d been uncommitted in announcing their support of Obama today.
"This year I felt as a super delegate that number one I wanted to respect the rules of the Democratic Party and let every state have its caucus or primary and have their say and (be) respectful of the candidates who were running — all friends of mine — and as I’ve said before any one of them…were supremely well-qualified to be president of the United States," Harkin says. "So I just felt as a super delegate and having that kind of position that I should be neutral until then end and I maintained that position up until this morning."
Harkin argues Obama has a "good chance" of carrying Iowa in November. "That’s not a slam dunk. He’s going to have to work hard. Iowa’s a pretty independent state," Harkin says. "I think he’s got his work cut out for him but I have every reason to believe that we can put Iowa in his column in November."
During a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters this afternoon, Harkin expressed some reluctance to speak for his wife, Ruth, who endorsed Clinton last summer and campaigned beside Clinton throughout the state before the January 3, 2008, Iowa Caucuses. Harkin said his wife was, like many Clinton supporters, very disappointed. "She felt I think, and I can say this openly, (Ruth) felt that this could be…the last time in her life that she has a chance to vote for a woman for president, a woman who can actually make it and of course, she’s been close to Hillary for years and I understand that," Harkin said. "and like I said, that’s why I’m sensitive to the feelings of so many people who had campaigned so hard for Hillary."
Harkin, though, dismisses the idea that Clinton’s most committed core of campaigners won’t back Obama in the fall. "I’ve heard this about, you know, a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters won’t vote for Obama, but you know something? That’s just the passion of the moment and this primary was very heated and, obviously, very close — right down the wire," Harkin said. "…Last night when Clinton was speaking they were chanting, you know, ‘Denver! Denver! Denver!’ to go on Denver and contest it, but as I said, that’s the passion of the moment. Things will cool down and people will realize that it’s in our best interests to unify our party behind Barack Obama."
You may listen to all of Harkin’s comments on this topic by clicking on the audio link below.