Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama received a major boost Monday when he was endorsed by Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Obama is in a fierce battle with Senator Hillary Clinton of New York for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.
Kennedy gave his endorsement at a joint appearance with Obama at American University in Washington.
Kennedy said Obama is a man with extraordinary gifts of leadership and character who can renew the belief that America's best days are yet to come.
"My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey to have the courage to choose change. It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama," he said.
Kennedy has long been considered an elder statesman of the Democratic Party and his support for Obama could help in the upcoming primaries and caucuses on February 5 when more than 20 states hold nominating contests.
In accepting the Kennedy endorsement, Obama urged voters to reject the politics of division and cynicism. "If you are ready to stop settling for what the cynics tell you you must accept and finally reach for what you know is possible, then we will not just win these primaries, we will not just win this general election, we will change the course of history and light a new torch for change in this country, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world!," he said.
Obama easily defeated Hillary Clinton in Saturday's South Carolina primary, and now both major Democratic contenders are focused on the so-called Super Tuesday contests on February 5.
The Republican presidential candidates are focused on Florida for a key showdown Tuesday in that state's presidential primary.
The latest polls show Senator John McCain of Arizona in a close race with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, while former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee trail behind.
McCain and Romney traded charges about each other's record one day before the primary.
The Democratic presidential contenders decided not to campaign for the primary in Florida after the state's Democratic Party moved up the date of its primary in violation of national party rules.