Wrapping up a three-day campaign blitz in North Carolina, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton nabbed a high-profile endorsement from the state’s highest-ranking member, Governor Mike Easley.

Easley officially endorsed Clinton at a joint appearance at North Carolina State University on Tuesday.

“I’ve been accused of being persistent and downright aggravating, but this lady right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy,” Easley said about Clinton’s fight to the finish.

“I am having a ball today,” Easley added, his wife Mary standing beside him.

“There’s nothing I love more than a strong, powerful woman.”

Easley’s endorsement and praise could prove to be a boon for Clinton’s campaign as she heads into the state’s May 6 primary, where her Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, shows a significant lead in the polls.

Several high-profile politicians have recently endorsed Obama.

Riffing on Obama’s “Yes we can!” theme, Easley said”

“There’s a lot of ‘yes, we can’ and ‘yes, we should’ going around. Hillary Clinton is ready to deliver. That’s the difference. She’s ready to deliver today. Immediately.”

“Of course, [Easley's endorsement] is politically very meaningful, but even more than that, it’s great to have someone who understands what we have to do to transform our country, to be prepared for the 21st century,” Clinton said, as the her supporters shouted “Hil-La-Ry. Hil-La-Ry,” in support.

But Clinton also praised Easley in return. She acknowledged Easley’s success in making the state a leader in education and biotechnology.

“Governor Easley has been on a mission, and it is a mission to transform the economy of this state,” she said. “I think North Carolina has made all the right bets.”

2008 GayWired.com All Rights Reserved.