A self-described ‘has-been,’ Gephardt, endorses Clinton


WASHINGTON – Former Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt endorsed on Thursday the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. The move could bolster Clinton’s credentials with organized labor, but Gephardt, a self-described “has-been politician,” isn’t expecting to swing many votes.

“I have no illusions about being any big factor. I am just doing what I think is the right thing to do,” Gephardt said in a conference call. Gephardt, the former House minority leader, was a two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton “will be ready to lead from Day One – that’s the most important thing we need in our next president,” he said. “She has the strength, the experience, the intelligence that uniquely qualifies her to be president at a very critical moment in our history.”

Gephardt runs his own lobbying firm in Atlanta. The firm also advises clients on business, labor and health care issues, specialties of Gephardt’s during his 28 years in Congress.

Clinton’s time with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in the White House from 1993-2000 gives her an advantage over the other candidates, Gephardt said.

“She knows what it means to be a president. She’s not a former president, but she’s as close as you can be to that,” said Gephardt, who is also serving as an economic adviser to the campaign.

At least one labor interest disputed Gephardt’s assessment of his own endorsement. Gephardt’s role in Clinton’s campaign helps ensure “that the issues workers care deeply about will be central to her campaign,” said Michael Goodwin, head of the Office and Professional Employees International Union in a statement.

(c) 2007, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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AP-NY-07-05-07 1903EDT