Inslee backs Obama for Democrat nomination

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, a Bainbridge resident and supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, said Thursday he will announce his endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday.

The Democratic party superdelegate’s announcement will come the same day Clinton is scheduled to hold a rally in Washington D.C., to voice support for Obama and end her presidential bid.

Inslee said he was proud to have supported Clinton, but glad the party is moving to close ranks following one of the hardest fought campaigns in party history.

“We needed to get to this unification promptly,” Inslee said. “So I was pleased to see that Clinton will be doing that this Saturday.”

Inslee endorsed Clinton in June 2007 and served as an energy policy advisor for her campaign.

Constituents from Inslee’s congressional district heavily favored Barack Obama in Washington’s Feb. 19 caucuses. Obama swept up 180 of Bainbridge Island’s 227 delegates, while collecting nearly 70 percent of delegates in Kitsap County.

Inslee acknowledged that there was pressure from constituents and fellow islanders to switch his support late in the campaign.

“People had very strong, white-hot desires for both these candidates,” he said. “On our island that was very heavily for Senator Obama.”

With the primary season over, Inslee said unification behind Obama should not be a difficult process, because divisions between party camps had been created more by the candidates’ strong personalities, rather than substantive policy differences.

“We no longer have the luxury of this personality driven support,” Inslee said.

Whether Clinton should be added to the ticket as a vice presidential nominee, “should be left to the wisdom of Obama,” Inslee said.

He said Clinton would be a well-qualified vice president, but said there are no shortage of qualified candidates, including Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who roomed with Inslee while serving in Congress.

Inslee said he plans to pitch in for Obama wherever he can in the general election hunt, and looks forward to working with Obama on creating a clean-energy policy if he is elected president.

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