Rep. Cohen Endorses Obama; So Does Local Democratic Chairman 

The most high-profile local endorsement yet of a presidential candidate was scheduled for a 5 p.m. announcement Monday, as 9th District congressman Steve Cohen prepared to make a statement expressing his support for Democrat Barack Obama.

Cohen said he had reached his decision after much soul-searching but had finally concluded that "Obama is the best chance of moving forward that Americans have had since Bill Clinton in 1992."

The congressman acknowledged that it was difficult to take a position counter to Hillary Clinton, whom he said he also admired. "But this is one of those choices that comes along only rarely, and we can't let it pass. Obama is the clearest option for change and the best chance to say no to the special interests."

Monday's announcement was to take place at Obama's local headquarters at Eastgate.

On the eve of Tuesday's Super Tuesday voting in Tennessee and 21 other states, Hillary Clinton did not go unspoken for, however, City councilman Myron Lowery announced over the weekend that he would be endorsing the New York senator.

UPDATE: Cohen was joined at the endorsement ceremony by the Rev. Keith Norman, the chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, who said his endorsement of Obama came from "Pastor Keith Norman, not from Chairman Keith Norman."

Norman made a brief statement of support for Obama, saying, " “Hope is my choice, and therefore I’m here tonight to make Barack Obama my choice for president.” He then introduced Cohen and stepped aside as the congressman made his own remarks.

Calling the 2008 presidential election “the most important” in his lifetime, Cohen said Obama would be a departure from politicians who were "too cozy with lobbyists and special interests." He compared Obama’s inspirational qualities to those of John F. Kennedy and also likened the Illinois senator to both Robert F. Kennedy and former president Bill Clinton, husband of Senator Hillary Clinton, Obama’s current Democratic primary opponent.

Obama and the ex-president were the two “most charismatic” political figures and the two most able to synthesize and articulate issues, said Cohen, who noted pointedly, “Barack Obama is the only one on the ballot tomorrow.”

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