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He reminded voters that his brother John F. Kennedy rejected President Truman’s request that he “be patient” and wait until he was more experienced, saying his brother was able to tap into a feeling of “urgency.”

“I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward,” he said. “With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, and everyone he touches, he generates new hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans, like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.”

In remarks filled with suggestion that Mrs. Clinton represents the opposite, he said Mr. Obama is running a campaign of “change” and rejects divisive politics.

He said the nation must “rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another” and deplored “the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.”

Mr. Kennedy also told the voters to “let no one” deny the truth that Mr. Obama opposed the war in Iraq, “when so many others were silent or simply went along,” a reference to former President Bill Clinton, who suggested Mr. Obama’s Iraq record is a “fairy tale.”

Obama supporters and some undecided voters said yesterday the Kennedy endorsement — and one from Nobel-Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who once labeled Mr. Clinton as the “first black president” — will help him build on the momentum from the South Carolina win at a crucial time.

“I’m very excited about his energy and what he’s bringing to this very important campaign,” said Donald Holmes, 36, of the Tenleytown neighborhood in Washington. “He’s going to need his speaking skills especially as he battles the Clintons.”

But Clinton supporter Kate Gleason, an American University student who wanted to hear Mr. Obama speak, said she made her presidential pick based on more than what she deemed “fluffy” speeches.

“He’s very inspiring and his energy is fabulous, but I think he should have waited,” she said. “He catches everybody’s heartstrings, but intellectually I don’t see where he’s going.”