Harkin in Obama camp now

UPDATE at 1:30 p.m.:  U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is speaking by phone with Iowa reporters about his decision. Harkin says he senses "big change coming" in the fall, he compared 2008 to the 1974 election which was a good year for Democrats.  Harkin also said he was "very sensitive to Senator Clinton & her supporters" but added it was "inappropriate" to pressure Obama to choose Clinton.  I’ll post the audio file when the call ends.  Harkin, BTW. restated his desire that Democrats do away with "super" delegates at the convention in Denver.

UPDATE II at 2:30 p.m.: Here is a 38 minute long mp3 of the call.  Harkin starts speaking about the endorsement 3 minutes in; at 31:30 Harkin speaks about his wife’s reaction. 

Here is a portion a link to the Radio Iowa story developing. Here’s a passage from the story:  During a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters this afternoon, Harkin expressed some reluctance to speak for his wife, Ruth, who endorsed Clinton last summer and campaigned beside Clinton throughout the state before the January 3, 2008, Iowa Caucuses.  But Harkin said his wife was, like many Clinton supporters, very disappointed. [Photo courtesy of God, Politics & Rock and Roll]

"She felt I think, and I can say this openly, (Ruth) felt that this could be…the last time in her life that she has a chance to vote for a woman for president, a woman who can actually make it and of course, she’s been close to Hillary for years and I understand that," Harkin said.  "and like I said, that’s why I’m sensitive to the feelings of so many people who had campaigned so hard for Hillary." 

Harkin, though, dismisses the idea that Clinton’s most committed core of campaigners won’t back Obama in the fall. "I’ve heard this about, you know, a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters won’t vote for Obama, but you know something?  That’s just the passion of the moment and this primary was very heated and, obviously, very close — right down the wire," Harkin said.  "…Last night when Clinton was speaking they were chanting, you know, ‘Denver! Denver! Denver!’ to go on Denver and contest it, but as I said, that’s the passion of the moment.  Things will cool down and people will realize that it’s in our best interests to unify our party behind Barack Obama." 

Harkin also suggested Bill Clinton would be a benefit to Obama.  "As a moth to flame, Bill Clinton will be in this campaign…and he will be a plus for our ticket."

11:25 a.m.: It’s official.  Senator Tom Harkin has switched from being an uncommitted super delegate to a super delegate who will cast his vote for Barack Obama at the Democratic Party’s National Convention in Denver.  Here’s the statement, released this morning:

After a long, hard-fought battle for the most important job in the world, Democrats across this country have spoken. 

Today, I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on securing the Democratic nomination and I pledge to do everything I can to assist his campaign over the next few months.

Like so many Americans, I have been moved by Senator Obama’s message of change.    He is poised to win the presidency and bring new ideas, new priorities and new ways of getting things done to the White House. 
I know in my heart that an Obama presidency will bring us quality, affordable health care for all Americans, investments in alternative sources of energy, a commitment to cleaning up our environment, a return to diplomacy and an effort to re-build America’s bruised alliances around the world.

I commend Senator Clinton on her historic effort to gain the nomination.   She is one of our party’s strongest leaders and her vision for our party will always be necessary and respected.  She inspired so many voters along the way and we are all grateful for her efforts. 

By turning out in record numbers throughout this exciting primary season, you’ve created a momentum that cannot be stopped.  Now is the time for us to come together and begin the process of helping our nominee secure the presidency.

Today, we know with certainty that brighter days are just ahead.

Thank you for all that you do,


As you may recall, Harkin’s wife, Ruth, endorsed Hillary Clinton last summer and campaigned with her.  Harkin refrained from endorsing a candidate before the January 3, 2008 Caucuses — repeatedly referencing his Howard Dean endorsement in 2004 when reporters asked him why he was remaining neutral.  A few weeks ago, Harkin was asked what his wife had to say about his uncommitted status as a super delegate.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Mitch Henry says

    Our grandchildren will read stories of how Iowa chose the first great leader of the free world in nearly 50 years.
    They will read stories about how this leader challenged citizens to accomplish great deeds. They will know the greatest deed of all for this new leader was the accomplishment of true world peace – a peace that elevated America to a new Renaissance of hope and opportunity.
    On Jan. 3, 2008, Iowans changed the course of America’s political landscape and caucused for the next great leader of the free world – Barack Obama.