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Fmr. DNC Chair explains switch to Obama

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 13:19 EDT
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Explaining why he switched his support from Clinton to Obama, Super delegate Joe Andrew drew a distinction between the dueling Democratic presidential candidates by alluding to Senator Clinton’s campaign style as “kabuki theater” and defining Senator Obama as a “principled politician.”

Joe Andrew, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a long time friend and political ally of the Clintons, endorsed Barack Obama in Indianapolis and Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe quickly laid-out exactly why Andrew jumped to the Obama campaign:

“One of the reasons Joe [Andrew] is supporting Senator Obama is the way he [Senator Obama] has handled himself during the campaign and his handling of the ‘gas tax rollback’ supported by Clinton and McCain….Clinton’s own staff said it was questionable but good politics.”

Plouffe added, “The discussion of the gas tax is a metaphor for the campaign…offering gimmicks or quick fixes instead of solving our energy problems.”

When it was Andrew’s turn, he said:

“This gas tax issue was the straw that broke the camels back…I’m sure it sounds great in the polls, but it was a step back from real policy…Barack didn’t pander…he’s offering real solutions to the energy problem and middle class tax breaks.”

“When I made the decision, I didn’t call Barack Obama for his permission and I didn’t call Hillary Clinton for her forgiveness…This is a heartfelt and personal decision… an embarrassment of riches with two candidates who have run their campaigns in different ways. I’ve sparred with Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and know we don’t have to play that game.”

Andrew said that Barack Obama has the temperament and tone of what it takes to be a great president and he called on Democrats across his home state of Indiana and his fellow super delegates across the nation to “heal the rift in our party and unite behind Barack Obama.”

When asked if Senator Clinton had been pandering on the gas tax rollback issue, Andrews said:

“What I assumed is that Senator Clinton would play the political theater better than anyone else, like I have in my career, and she would send out the appropriate signals to bring voters her way and what I like about Obama is that he hasn’t done that…he’s had a principled attempt with real policy answers…and we aren’t going to put on our kabuki masks and act like every other political actor taking lessons from Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.”

Andrew said the protracted campaign process is reinvigorating the party but the polls also show voters positions hardening and the rift could cause a loss to Senator McCain in the fall.

The Indiana primary remains a toss-up race and for the first time in 40 years, the national media will spotlight the Hoosier Democrats as they cast their votes on Tuesday, May 6.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell talked with former DNC Chair Joe Andrew about switching his support from Clinton to Obama.

This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast May 1, 2008.

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