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The presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) received the endorsement today of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) in a move that is heavy with symbolism.

Byrd’s announcement comes days after Obama lost the May 13 West Virginia Democratic contest to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), 67 percent to 26 percent.

The 90-year-old Byrd is the longest-serving Senator and had not endorsed in the race. Clinton had wooed Byrd during her tenure in the Senate, and he often spoke highly of her.

Byrd has a mixed record on race issues. In his youth, Byrd had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and in Congress, he filibustered the 1964 Voting Rights Act. He has said many times that both were mistakes he regretted.

Byrd’s office confirmed the endorsement of Obama.

West Virginia’s junior Senator, Jay Rockefeller (D), also has endorsed Obama.

— Tim Taylor

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