New Obama backer Klobuchar: Clinton should stay in

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced her endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Monday morning, but she said rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) should stay in the race through the primaries despite increasing calls for her to step aside for the good of the party.

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In recent days, some of Obama’s supporters, including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have said Clinton should withdraw from the race because she has little hope of catching Obama in the delegate count with only a few contests remaining.

Clinton, however, has said of late that she is planning to stay in the race for the duration, and Klobuchar joined Obama, who said recently Clinton should stay in the race as long as she likes.

Minnesota’s junior senator said the “spirited race” thus far has generated unprecedented excitement within the Democratic Party and she would “expect and hope it will continue to be so throughout the primaries.”

“She has every right to continue her campaign,” Klobuchar said. “I don’t agree with those who have said things to the contrary. I think she should continue her campaign.”

Klobuchar said there is no reason to worry yet about a divided party paving an easier path to the White House for presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

The freshman senator said it will be up to the candidates to heal any division and she has “faith” they will help the party come together.

“I put a lot of that on the shoulders of these two candidates,” she said, adding that “the tone of the campaign really didn’t have anything to do with” her endorsement.