U.S. Rep. Murtha endorses Clinton for president

Wednesday, March 19, 2008; 1:03AM ET 

MILLERSVILLE, Penn. (Reuters) – U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a leading congressional opponent of the war in Iraq, on Tuesday endorsed Hillary Clinton‘s presidential bid, saying her position on the war made her the best candidate to take over the White House.

Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, which holds a crucial presidential nominating contest next month, said Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, was best placed to deal with the issues surrounding the war and the economy.

Senator Clinton is the candidate that will forge a consensus on health care, education, the economy and the war in Iraq,” he said in a statement.

He cited a speech Clinton gave on Monday in which she said withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq did not mean defeat.

“This week, she highlighted the policy failures in Iraq and addressed the real challenges we face in regards to rebuilding our military, restoring our readiness and fully preparing our armed forces to meet and deter future threats,” the former Marine said.

“I know that Senator Clinton has a similar position that I have in regards to the war in Iraq,” he said.

Clinton’s Democratic opponent Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, also favors withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and has criticized Clinton for her vote giving President George Bush the authorization to go to war in the first place.

But Murtha said Clinton’s experience gave her an edge.

“Her experience and careful consideration of these issues convinced me that she is best qualified to lead our nation and to bring credibility back to the White House.”

The endorsement gives Clinton a boost in Pennsylvania, which she hopes to win handily in an effort to catch up with Obama’s lead in pledged delegates who determine the Democratic nominee.

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