Clinton-Backing Civil Rights Icon Considers Shifting to Obama

UPDATE: (CNN) – Is he or isn’t he? The New York Times reported Thursday night that Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights movement veteran and Democratic congressional leader who endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid last year, was switching his superdelegate vote to Barack Obama.

Within hours, according to the Washington Post, his spokeswoman Brenda Jones said the story — and an earlier Associated Press report that the Georgia congressman was considering the move — had been "observations, not statements of preference."

The New York Times had also reported that Lewis had not yet endorsed Obama, and would make a decision on that within a few days.

As of early Friday, there had been no comment from the congressman himself on either report.


A few months ago, when Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) endorsed Hillary Clinton, it was a key development. Lewis, a Democratic icon and civil-right legend, became Clinton's highest-profile African-American supporter, and sent a signal to the party about Clinton's strong connection to the African-American community.

As I understand it, Lewis was, a few months prior, undecided on whether to support Clinton or Barack Obama, but cajoling from Bill Clinton reportedly pushed the Georgia congressman into Sen. Clinton's camp.

Now, it appears circumstances have pushed Lewis in the other direction.
Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.
"In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit," said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. "Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap."
Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate he could "never, ever do anything to reverse the action" of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.
"I've been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama," Mr. Lewis said. "He's getting better and better every single day."

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