May 15, NY Times

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Edwards gave his long-awaited endorsement to Senator Barack Obama on Wednesday, bolstering Mr. Obama’s efforts to rally the Democratic Party around his candidacy and offering potential help in his efforts to win over working class white voters in the general election.

“The Democratic voters in America have made their choice, and so have I,” Mr. Edwards told a roaring crowd of more than 12,000 people here in the Van Andel Arena, on a day when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was trying to capitalize on her victory on Tuesday in West Virginia and convince superdelegates and contributors that she still has a chance to capture the Democratic nomination.

“There is one man who knows in his heart that we have to build one America — not two — and that man is Barack Obama,” Mr. Edwards said at an event that resembled the closing night of a party convention, with the two men standing arm in arm and waving as the crowd chanted “Yes we can!”

Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina who dropped his own bid for the Democratic nomination in January, said Mr. Obama represented hope and reconciliation to a nation buffeted by war and economic distress.

His endorsement came after victories by Mrs. Clinton in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states with large working class populations indicated potential weaknesses with voters along racial and class divides — weaknesses that Mrs. Clinton has tried to exploit to convince superdelegates, contributors and voters in the five remaining contests that she has a better chance to beat Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the fall.

Mr. Edwards could potentially help Mr. Obama with that group of voters.

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photo: Senator Barack Obama, right, and John Edwards at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)