- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 17, 2007

RICHMOND — Standing within eyeshot of the former Confederate capitol, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“I am very happy to say it is a very simple decision for me in terms of what I think is important in my assessment of where the nation is to endorse Sen. Barack Obama as our nation’s next president,” Mr. Kaine said, standing outside the governor’s mansion in Capitol Square.

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, was joined by his wife, Michelle. He said he was “honored” to have Mr. Kaine’s early public support.

“For Tim Kaine to step forward as the first governor outside of my home state of Illinois to endorse my candidacy is an extraordinary honor,” he said. “I am absolutely determined that the confidence he has placed in me will be reflected in the hard work over the next several months … to win the presidency.”

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said his early endorsement was a sign of his enthusiasm for Mr. Obama. His endorsement of the first-term senator made Mr. Kaine the first governor to publicly endorse any presidential candidate.

Mr. Obama yesterday said it was “humbling” to stand in the heart of the Confederacy and receive the backing of the Virginia governor.

“Here we are in what was the heart of the Confederacy, and for me to be able to stand here as an African-American reflects the enormous progress that this country has made, and I think to some degree represents not the perfection of the union, but a whole lot of progress in perfecting this union,” he said.

He said that he was “standing on the shoulders” on many black leaders who have paved the way for him.

“It is worth noting that the trajectory of America is to include more people and bring more people together,” he said. “We have stumbled at times. It’s been a rocky path and we still have a long way to go, but part of my campaign I hope is to remind people of the capacity for this nation to change and that has always been one of our strengths.”

Mr. Kaine, standing next to his wife, Anne, said the two men shared similar life experiences.

Both graduated from Harvard Law School, married lawyers and practiced civil rights law before entering politics.

“The thing that cemented our relationship early on is when we found out that our [mothers] grew up in the very tiny town of El Dorado, Kansas, and there are just so few people that can claim that,” Mr. Kaine said.

Mr. Obama was in Richmond last night to headline the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, the Virginia Democratic Party’s annual fundraising event, which each year showcases key national Democratic figures and this year drew 4,000 people.

Mr. Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, campaigned in Virginia last fall for Sen. James H. Webb Jr. and received a rock-star ovation alongside Mr. Webb and former Gov. Mark Warner at a rally in Richmond.

He also appeared at a fundraiser for Mr. Kaine in July 2005 and donated $10,000 to Mr. Kaine’s gubernatorial bid.

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