Breaking with mentor and former boss Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Rep. Barbara Lee announced her endorsement for Sen. Barack Obama for president Monday.
“For me this is a defining moment in the history of our country, a very powerful moment,” Lee said, in a late-morning press conference by phone, hosted by the Obama campaign.
Calling Obama “a real agent of change” who would “set a course for our country in a new direction,” Lee promised to be active in the campaign.
“I intend to work very hard to make sure he wins,” she said, announcing a visit to Obama’s Oakland campaign office that afternoon.
Asked how Lee, a fierce opponent of the Iraq War who has called for the immediate return home of U.S. troops, could support a candidate who has said the troops won’t all come home until 2013, Lee responded that Obama would “bring this occupation of Iraq to a quick resolve. I believe because of his early position [in opposition to the war], he will be forceful in bringing the young people home.”
Asked how she could call for universal health care, but support a candidate with a less comprehensive plan, Lee answered that she believes “he has the vision—he’ll be able to bring a coalition of people together.”
As for the break with Dellums, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, Lee said she’d discussed the issue with the mayor before his endorsement of Clinton and again before she announced her support for Obama.
“We are individuals,” Lee said. “I’m responsible for my decision. We continue to be friends and work with each other. We don’t have to be in lock step.”
If Obama fails to get the nomination, Lee said she would support the Democrat that does. “They all have what is necessary to be president,” she said.