"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." Theodore Roosevelt
Sen. Barack Obama picked up an endorsement Friday morning from the union representing federal employees -- and the personal support of its president, a superdelegate to this summer's Democratic convention.
Two Democratic lawmakers also announced they would cast their votes as superdelegates for Obama, further solidifying his lead over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the battle to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
"Senator Obama has proven he is able to energize young Americans, independents and even moderate Republicans to support his candidacy," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement. "I believe he represents our best hope of winning in November."
New Jersey Rep. Donald M. Payne announced today that he was switching his support from Clinton to Obama. Calling the former first lady "a good friend," Payne said in a statement that Obama "embodies the American ideals of hope, optimism, and the ability to take on tough challenges in order to solve difficult problems. In addition, I believe that he will work to restore America's image around the globe."
Superdelegates are proving crucial to deciding who will win the hard-fought contest to oppose Republican John McCain in the race for the White House this fall.
Although Clinton enjoyed a substantial lead in superdelegate support earlier in the primary season, Obama has gained steadily as he has won a larger share of the popular vote and more primary contests than his rival. With the new endorsements, the Associated Press superdelegate count is Clinton, 271.5 and Obama, 267.
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said that both Clinton and Obama are "dear friends of ours," but that union leaders were ultimately more impressed by what they saw as Obama's energy and enthusiasm.
"We always knew that the Democrats had good candidates," Gage said. "We didn't realize how good -- that it would be very difficult to choose between them."
One prominent Democrat who continues to play his cards close to his vest is former presidential hopeful John Edwards.
Edwards appeared on NBC's "Today Show" this morning and said it "looks like" Obama will be the Democratic Party's nominee. But he continued to praise both Obama and Clinton and refused to endorse either of them or say who he voted for during the North Carolina primary this week.