Illinois Senator Barack Obama received the endorsement of former Presidential candidate Chris Dodd yesterday.

The Connecticut Senator said at a press conference in Cleveland that he is “deeply proud to be the first 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate to endorse Barack Obama.”

In endorsing Obama, Dodd urged Democrats to “come together, to get behind this candidacy.”

Dodd emphasised that a prolonged war for the Democratic nomination is not in the party’s or nation’s best interest.

“I don’t want a campaign that is only divisive here, and there is a danger of it becoming that, not because the candidates want it, but too often the advisers, the consultants, others are seeking that diviseness,” Dodd said, according to CNN.com.

“It is devastating in the longer term when it comes to building victories, uniting people and making a difference.”

Dodd’s endorsement comes on the heels of a new national New York Times/CBS News poll showing Obama with a lead of 54 percent to 38 percent of likely Democratic voters.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll found that likely Democratic voters feel Obama is the stronger competitor against Republican candidate John McCain by a 2 to 1 margin.

Clinton and Obama faced their last debate on Tuesday night before the all-important Ohio and Texas primaries on March 4th.

Both the Obama campaign and the Hillary Clinton campaign courted Dodd for his endorsement, according to the New York Times.

Dodd said he had informed Clinton of his decision to endorse Obama beforehand.

“These are not easy conversations. She was as gracious as she could be,” he said.

In supporting Obama over Clinton, Dodd said: “I believe that Barack Obama has the experience, the ability, the vision to lead this coutry, to make a difference both at home and abroad.”

Dodd told ABC News he was not interested in pursuing a Vice Presidential nomination at this time.

“Who would want to be Vice President?” he said, “I’d rather be chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.”

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