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U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) looked out from a sea of faces at City Hall and declared Democrats who had supported U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) were now supporting U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president.
"We never said we would not support Barack Obama if and when it might be appropriate and we now declare our support for Mr. Obama," said Meeks, who organized the rally for the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Meeks was chairman of the unification rally on the steps of City Hall June 6.
The mass of officials behind Meeks on the City Hall steps included a wide range of Democratic office holders and former elected officials.
There were members of Congress, City Council members, borough presidents and former elected officials.
"In Washington, the New York City congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) endorsed Mr. Obama," Meeks said.
Rangel heavily influenced Clinton's decision to drop out of the race Saturday, according to his spokesman, Elbert Garcia.
"I think he definitely helped convince her that sooner would be better for the party than later," Garcia said.
"He was among a number of people that had discussions with Sen. Clinton about the timing" of her announcement to abandon the campaign, he said, noting that the New York delegation was not told what Clinton would say during the speech she gave in New York when the primary season ended June 3.
Clinton addressed a crowd of supporters in Manhattan without mentioning Obama as the presumptive Democratic nominee, an omission that surprised Rangel, Garcia said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) added their endorsements of Obama on Saturday.
"I know Barack very well and have no doubt that he will make an extraordinary president," Schumer said.
The Queens Democrats who thronged City Hall plaza included state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica); state Assembly members Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing), Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) and William Scarborough (D-St. Albans); and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing).
Meeks, Clarke and Towns had previously issued a statement that said, in part:
"It is critical that all delegates and all Democrats come together now to unite our party and put our efforts into mobilizing a strong collective push for the White House. We stand ready to rally behind Sen. Obama as we begin the next phase in the process of electing the next president of the United States of America.
"We are pleased that Sen. Clinton's history-making campaign contributed so greatly to the invigoration of millions in our party and strengthened our commitment to policies that will improve the lives of Americans. We are certain that she will continue to play an essential role as we work to address the needs of all of our constituencies and ultimately succeed in November."
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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