The email came in: Barack Obama Campaign about to Announce a Major Endorsement. Who could that be? Al Gore? The campaign was holding a conference call in minutes to break the news. I quickly called in. And the big catch turned out to be….Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
This certainly won’t turn the race. But one standard line for Senator Hillary Clinton has been that she has outdrawn Obama in senatorial endorsements. She had bagged ten; he had six. Now Obama has cut her lead by 25 percent. She better watch out!
In the conference call, Leahy gave one reason for picking Obama over Clinton and former Senator John Edwards:
I believe many around the world have lost respect for America….I think we can restore that respect. But we need a president who can reintroduce America to the world.
I asked the obvious question: why did Leahy think that Obama could better reintroduce America than Clinton?
No surprise, he punted. “My endorsement is not in opposition to Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards,” Leahy replied. “I’m looking at who can do this best….We need someone who…can express American values the best.”
Leahy insisted that his decision was not a sign of “disrespect” for Clinton. But stripped of his polite Senate-speak, it was a profound swing at her. Imagine him saying to her face: “You cannot represent America to the rest of the world as well as Obama.” Should she ever become president, Leahy might have to worry about those dairy subsidies for Vermont.