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N.C. Reps. Price and Watt Endorse Obama

North Carolina Democratic Reps. David Price and Mel Watt announced their endorsement Wednesday of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for the Democratic presidential nomination, bringing to three the number of House Members who threw their weight behind the Illinois Senator on Wednesday.

Rep. André Carson (D-Ill.) also endorsed Obama on Wednesday. Most of the other members of the Indiana and North Carolina delegations remain undecided in the presidential race.

The support of House Members is crucial in the Democratic nominating contest between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) because they are superdelegates who could decide who eventually wins.

The announcement from the House Members seems designed to blunt Clinton’s momentum heading into the Pennsylvania Democratic primary on Tuesday, which polls show Clinton leading. It may also serve to cushion any perceived fallout from Obama’s remarks that some small-town Pennsylvanians are “bitter” about their economic situations.

The endorsements also may influence other key Democrats and voters ahead of North Carolina’s and Indiana’s Democratic primaries on May 6.

The Obama campaign held a conference call Wednesday to tout the endorsements. Price is considered the dean of the North Carolina delegation and helped design the rules surrounding superdelegates, while Watt is a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Both were previous supporters of ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) before he dropped out of the presidential race.

“With all of the challenges we face — from the war in Iraq to the foreclosure crisis — we desperately need change in the White House. And Barack Obama represents that kind of change,” Price said in a statement released by Obama. “Senator Obama is the candidate best equipped to transcend the conflicts and resentments of the past, while energizing and inspiring the newest generation of American voters.”

Said Watt: “Barack Obama will work for every American, every day. He listens to Americans across the country and understands the problems they face — and what it will take to solve those problems.”

“In these difficult economic times, we need a president who will serve regular Americans, not special interests. From affordable health care to restoring our lost manufacturing jobs, Barack Obama has the right ideas and the strength to make change happen.”

Price and Watt join North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D), who had previously endorsed Obama. All three lawmakers hail from districts considered safe Democratic seats.

North Carolina Democratic Reps. Heath Shuler, Bob Etheridge, Mike McIntyre and Brad Miller have yet to endorse. With the exception of Miller, those lawmakers represent districts won by President Bush in 2004.

In Indiana, Carson won the seat vacated by his late grandmother, Julia Carson (D).

“Sen. Obama is a fighter for working families, and part of a new generation of leadership that will bring needed change for our country and I am proud to endorse him for president,” Carson said in a statement.

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