Leahy endorses Obama

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in his fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I believe many people around the world have lost respect for America,” Leahy said in a conference call. “We need a president who can re-introduce America to the world and to ourselves.”

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Obama has notched a slew of endorsements since finishing a disappointing second in the New Hampshire primary, including 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), and Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).

Leahy said his endorsement is not against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) or former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

“I’m looking at who can do this best, and I believe that Barack Obama can,” Leahy said.

Leahy’s backing shows that Obama can compete when it comes to Democratic heavyweights in Congress. The Vermont senator, who is in his sixth term, is one of the senior Democrats in the Senate and well respected among his peers.

In addition, in his role as Judiciary Committee chairman, Leahy has been in the spotlight as a main critic of the Bush administration on issues such as warrantless wiretapping and torture. He also was among the Democrats who led the charge against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.