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APNewsBreak: Gov. Easley to endorse Clinton

Gary D. Robertson And Beth Fouhy

Gov. Mike Easley will endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, The Associated Press has learned.

Easley was expected to announce the endorsement Tuesday morning in Raleigh, the state capital, one week before North Carolina's primary on May 6, according to persons close to the governor and to Clinton. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not yet been made.

Easley is a Democratic superdelegate who has served two terms as governor. His decision comes despite several recent polls showing Clinton trailing rival Barack Obama ahead of the state's May 6 primary.

The endorsement is a major boost for the former first lady. Besides being a respected figure among Democrats in the state, Easley is one of the all-important superdelegates likely to choose the party's presidential nominee.

He would be the second superdelegate from the state to endorse Clinton. Six of its 17 superdelegates have endorsed Obama.

Easley had backed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards for president before he ended his bid in January.

In recent weeks, Clinton's once sizable lead among superdelegates has dwindled as Obama has picked up the backing of several who were previously uncommitted. Obama's campaign announced Monday that New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, another superdelegate, was supporting the Illinois senator.

A former state attorney general, Easley has focused largely on education programs during his eight-year tenure. He's called on both of the presidential candidates to take more about he issue.


Beth Fouhy reported from Salisbury, N.C.

The Associated Press