Durham mayor endorses Obama during rally
(11/01/07 -- DURHAM) --
"Obama brings a different dimension to the campaign and the country in terms of his vision, the energy he has and his ideas," Bell said in an interview with The Associated Press. "He was out front in opposing the Iraq War and I think that conflict probably the biggest damage that this country has experienced."
Bell's decision might be viewed as a hometown letdown for Obama's Democratic rival, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who lives in nearby Chapel Hill. In 2004, Bell supported Edwards as a candidate for vice president, hosting an event at his home for Edwards and running mate John Kerry.
Bell praised Obama for the "foresight and judgment" to oppose the Iraq War from its outset. Edwards voted for the Iraq War while in the Senate. He has since called that vote a mistake and is a strong critic of the war.
"I have a lot for respect for John. I think he'd make a fine president also," Bell said. "But, at this point in time, my support is with Barack."
Obama is visited Durham Thursday afternoon for a public fundraising event at North Carolina Central University. Officials had to move the event from the school's gym to its football stadium to accommodate the thousands of supporters who sought tickets.
The event also comes at a good time for Bell, who is seeking to maintain his seat for a fourth term and will face off against Republican challenger Thomas Stith III in next Tuesday's election.
Ben LaBolt, an Obama spokesman, said the senator is reciprocating on the endorsement for Bell.
"Barack Obama believes Mayor Bell has served Durham well, and he's encouraging Durham residents to turn out to the polls for him next week," Labolt said.
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