New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former presidential candidate, has endorsed Democratic Party Senator Barack Obama for president.

The two appeared together at a rally Friday in Portland, Oregon.  Richardson said that after eight years of President Bush, the country "desperately" needs the kind of leader like Obama.

He said he trusts Obama will do what Richardson says is long overdue, end the Iraq war and bring American troops home.

The endorsement is another boost for Obama, who leads rival Senator Hillary Clinton in the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic Party nomination.

Richardson sought to become the nation's first Hispanic president, but dropped out of the race in January after finishing fourth in early nominating contests. 

The endorsement could help Obama win the support of Hispanics, who have tended to support Clinton.

Richardson, a former congressman, served as energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations in the administration of Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.

The next major Democratic primary is in Pennsylvania April 22, with 158 delegates at stake.

Some new public opinion polls suggest a close and volatile presidential race in the months ahead. The latest Gallup poll has Clinton pulling ahead of Obama by a margin of 49 to 42 percent.

But it is unlikely that either candidate will receive enough total delegates to clinch the nomination as John McCain did for the Republican Party.  That means the decision could come down to the party's nominating convention, when party officials, known as "super-delegates," are free to vote as they choose.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.