Ending months of speculation among her constituents, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president.
In a statement, Capps said the decision was a difficult one. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., she said, would fulfill a lifelong dream “for so many of us who have been fighting for women’s rights.”
But Obama, she said, was the better choice.
“He was right on Iraq when so many were wrong,” she said. “He speaks with an eloquence that most public officials can only dream of, and is inspiring millions of Americans to reconnect with politics or connect for the first time. And he can win in November.”
Capps also praised what she called Obama’s call to “the better angels of our nature.”
“He is challenging us to lift ourselves out of the ugliness that increasingly consumes Washington, where the heat of your argument counts for more than the light it should bring,” she said. “He is asking us to stand together as Americans and transcend the traditional lines that have so often divided us by party affiliation, economic status, gender or race.”
Capps, a Democratic Party superdelegate, has ties to both Obama and Clinton. Her son-in-law, Bill Burton, is Obama’s national campaign press secretary. Her daughter, Laura, Burton’s wife, was a White House intern during the Clinton administration.
In a statement, Obama welcomed Capps to his corner.
“It’s an honor to have the support of Congresswoman Capps,” he said. “As one of only three nurses in Congress, Lois’ life’s work has been about making a real difference in the well-being of children and families … I look forward to fighting alongside her in the months ahead to finally make universal health care a reality, strengthen our economy, and bring about real change for the people of California and for all Americans.”
While Obama holds a comfortable lead in elected delegates, he and Clinton are locked in an increasingly divisive struggle for the nomination. On Tuesday, Obama was forced to confront anew a controversy he thought he had put behind him: his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In widely publicized appearances this week, Wright repeated his claims that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus to harm blacks and that the United States brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.
After weeks of defending his good works, Obama on Tuesday denounced Wright, who officiated at his wedding, baptized his two daughters and had been his pastor for 20 years before his retirement earlier this year. The title of Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, was taken from a Wright sermon.
Capps had been under intense pressure from her constituents calling for her to endorse Obama, who won the most votes from her congressional district in the Democratic presidential primary in February even though Clinton won California. In a March 25 interview with Noozhawk, Capps said she was favoring one candidate but declined to go further.
“I’m hoping for a clear forge ahead by one of the two,” she had said then.
Click here for a Capps commentary on her endorsement.