Roark Backs Obama

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Barack Obama just picked up another sought-after superdelegate.

R. Keith Roark, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, is backing Obama—a big switch from his pledged neutrality in earlier weeks.

The announcement came during a press conference Monday at the Idaho Democratic Party Headquarters. It included the promise of a visit from Obama's wife, Michele, following the primary, and a possible return by Obama himself.

Roark is the fourth of five Idaho superdelegates to commit to Obama. The fifth state delegate will be selected at the state convention in June. There are also 15 pledged deligates committed to Obama, while three others will represent Hillary Clinton. These delegates will also be selected at the state Democratic convention.

UPDATE

Here's Roark's full statement:

“After several months of careful consideration, I am announcing today that I will cast my vote this August at the Democratic National Convention for the next President of the United States, Sen. Barack Obama.

"I have evaluated the two remaining candidates for our party’s nomination based upon the answers to three critical questions: 1) Who would make the better President of the United of the United States; 2) Who is more electable? 3) Who will run the stronger race in Idaho?

"As to the question of who will make the better President of the United States I believe that both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are exceptionally gifted leaders who can and will begin immediately to undo the damage that eight years of the unholy Bush-Cheney-Rove trinity has brought to our country.

"Both candidates are vastly superior to the presumptive Republican nominee. Each candidate would bring a different background, style and tone to the White House but they are both committed to essentially the same policies and I do not find that one is markedly superior to the other in their qualifications for office.

"Second, is the question of which candidate, if nominated, is more likely to prevent John McCain from serving out a third George W. Bush term.

"I have watched every debate between the candidates this year, carefully studied the results of every primary and caucus beginning with Iowa, I have tracked hundreds of polls and read hundreds of pages of election analysis. Both of our candidates can and will beat John McCain in November and I have no doubt that, ultimately, this great Democratic Party will pull together so that either candidate is eminently electable.

"My lingering concerns about Sen. Obama’s ability to take hard punches and keep going were laid to rest with the results of the primary contests last week in North Carolina and Indiana.

"Thirdly, and most importantly from my particular position and point of view is the question of who will run the stronger race here in Idaho where Republicans have prevailed in every Presidential election since 1964. I have no doubt that Sen. Obama will run the stronger race.

"The unprecedented enthusiasm Sen. Obama has generated here in Idaho is unlike anything I have seen in my 31 years of active political participation in this State. He has captured the imagination and mint fresh optimism of young voters from Coeur d’Alene to Caldwell, from Murphy to Montpelier, from Twin Falls to Idaho Falls. I firmly believe that the critical process of rebuilding the Idaho Democratic Party will receive a once in a lifetime boost from Senator Obama’s candidacy.

"I spent time just last Friday in Chicago with Sen. Obama’s senior campaign staff and secured their commitment to place real campaign resources here in Idaho for the entire Presidential campaign—something we have not seen in decades. His campaign is committed to a grass-roots approach to this campaign that meshes perfectly with our plans to rebuild the Idaho Democratic Party.

"I have also secured a commitment that Michele Obama will be visiting our State soon after the conclusion of the primary campaign and it’s likely that Sen. Obama, who has a very special place in his heart for the warmth and enthusiasm he experienced here, will be back in Idaho before election day.

"While I greatly admire Hillary Clinton, I believe strongly that her husband’s presidency, whatever it may or may not have done for the nation, was a disaster for Idaho Democrats and for Democrats throughout the Intermountain West.

"Our counterparts in Montana, Wyoming and Nevada have slowly but powerfully rebuilt their Democratic State parties in the last eight years. Our day here in Idaho is coming and I cannot for a moment believe that a return to the polarizing politics of the past is in our best interests.

"I have not come quickly or easily to this decision. Democrats are blessed to have two outstanding candidates vying for our party’s nomination at this defining moment in American history. I realize that my decision will disappoint a number of Idaho Democrats who have worked tirelessly for our party through thick and thin and are passionate in their support of Sen. Clinton. Many good friends have contacted me personally to express their support for Sen. Clinton and I thank them sincerely for their advice and counsel.

"I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that Sen. Clinton should drop out of this phenomenal primary campaign. On the contrary, I think she should remain until the last primary votes are cast. Sen. Obama owes Sen. Clinton a debt of gratitude for making him a better and stronger candidate.

"We can have only one nominee and I can make but one choice. There have been unkind cuts inflicted in this campaign— but we now have millions of new, registered Democrats, effective ground organizations in all fifty states and an electorate that realizes it has been lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt for eight long years and they aren’t going to take it any longer.

"We will soon join hands and when we do the Republican Dark Ages will come quickly to a well deserved end. Idaho’s super delegates are now united in their support for Barrack Obama. Idaho’s entire Democratic party will soon be united as well.”

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