Et tu, Teddy?

Kennedy to endorse Obama, despite pleas from the former president to remain neutral.

Published January 28, 2008 2:02PM (EST)

Memo to Bill Clinton: Yes, Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in 1984 and 1988, but Jackson never won the state by a landslide in a fiercely fought contest there; never won the state when the state's results really mattered; and never was a serious contender for the Democratic nomination.

Oh, and Mr. President? Jackson never had Ted Kennedy's endorsement, either.

Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama this morning during a rally at American University in Washington, and this one's got to hurt. As the Washington Post reports, Hillary Clinton sought Kennedy's endorsement for months, and her husband appealed to Kennedy "in recent days to at least remain neutral."

In the Post's telling, Kennedy has decided to endorse Obama -- he had planned to remain neutral through the primaries -- in part because of his admiration for Obama but also in part because of his disappointment in the Clintons. The Post says that Kennedy has come to see Obama as a "potentially historic candidate, an African American able to connect across racial lines and to inspire young voters." As for the Clintons? The Post says Kennedy felt "rising frustration" over their "campaign tactics, particularly comments by the couple and their surrogates in South Carolina that seemed to carry racial overtones." The Post says that Kennedy registered his complaints with Bill Clinton, but to "no avail."

With both Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsing Obama -- in a New York Times Op-Ed Sunday, the daughter of John F. Kennedy said that Obama could be the kind of president who inspires her "the way people tell me that my father inspired them" -- the Clinton campaign Sunday pointed to its own claim on the Kennedy legacy: It released an endorsement statement in which former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- the eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy -- said that Clinton "shares so many of the concerns of my father." Townsed also noted that Clinton has the support of her brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and her sister Kerry Kennedy.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Ted Kennedy War Room