Former Rep. Lee Hamilton will be endorsing Barack Obama on Wednesday. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) previously held important posts in Congress and the Bush administration pertaining to military intelligence and foreign affairs. During his 34 years in office, he was also was among the few former President Bill Clinton short-listed as his vice presidential candidate. Hamilton’s endorsement of Obama would be a minority among top Democrats in Indiana, but could bolster Obama’s foreign relations’ credentials to voters in both Pennsylvania and Indiana.
April 2, 2008
Hamilton, who during a three-decade House career rose to be chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees, also was vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission. He planned to announce his endorsement of Obama on Wednesday.
In an interview Hamilton said he viewed the Illinois senator as a champion of “the politics of consensus and not of partisan division.”
“I think he is driven by the search for the common good,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is best known as the top Democrat on the panel that investigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also was co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission that assessed U.S. policy in Iraq.
Although Hamilton is not a Democratic superdelegate, his backing comes on the heels of several high-profile endorsements for Obama, who leads Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in delegates for the party’s nomination. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota endorsed Obama in recent days.
Hamilton also serves on Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and his Homeland security Advisory Council. According to Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg.com on April 2, 2008:
“I read his national security and foreign policy speeches, and he comes across to me as pragmatic, visionary and tough,” Hamilton said in an interview yesterday. “He impresses me as a person who wants to use all the tools of presidential power.”
Hamilton, 76, also sided with Obama, 46, on two foreign policy stances that have been criticized by Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, 71, the presumptive Republican nominee. Both have dismissed the Illinois senator, saying he doesn’t have the experience to deal with critical foreign policy matters.
“He wavers from seeming to believe that mediation and meetings without preconditions can solve some of the world’s most intractable problems, to advocating rash, unilateral military action without cooperation from our allies in the most sensitive region of the world,” Clinton, 60, said Feb. 25 in Washington.
Hamilton said he agreed with Obama’s position on meeting with U.S. adversaries such as the leaders of Iran without conditions. Also, Obama’s consideration of unilateral military action against terrorist hideouts in Pakistan is already U.S. policy, Hamilton said.
While it is questionable how effective Hamilton’s endorsement will be to ordinary voters, it may have a more significant impact among the superdelegates.