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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Nunn, Boren Endorse Obama

Today brought the surprising news that my old boss, former Sen. Sam Nunn, has endorsed Barack Obama for president, along with his frequent collaborator in politics and policy, former OK Sen. David Boren.
Nunn and Boren last made news back at the beginning of the year, when they presided over a confab hosted by Boren that seemed to be designed to signal support for a “unity” third-party presidential run, probably by Mike Bloomberg. Back in August of last year, Nunn let it be known that he might himself be available for a third-party candidacy.
Since Bloomberg decided not to spend his dough on a presidential run, while the Unity ’08 “grassroots” effort to draft a third-party candidate sputtered out some time ago, it appears that Nunn and Boren looked at the presidential field and made their choice emphatically.
Maybe I’m prejudiced here, but I think Nunn’s support could be a reasonably big deal for Obama in a general election contest, if he uses the Georgian appropriately. Nunn’s national security street cred couldn’t be much higher, and in combination with his well-earned reputation for bipartisanship, should give pause to those chattering-class types who think John McCain is the “centrist” in the race, or is the clear choice for those who value national security above all other issues. If nothing else, he would be a pretty handy surrogate to put on the airwaves if and when Joe Lieberman attacks Obama’s national security views at the Republican National Convention in September. (I say this because one of the lost opportunities of the Kerry campaign was the failure to reach out to Nunn as the perfect person to answer Zell Miller’s attacks on the Democrat’s defense record in the Senate).
Not having been in touch with Nunn for a good long while, I have no idea whether his support for Obama would extend to support for HRC if she somehow wins the nomination. He did supply Bill Clinton with an important early endorsement in the 1992 cycle. But a lot’s happened since then, and Nunn and Boren clearly take Obama’s post-partisanship posture quite seriously. In any event, I don’t agree with those who may think these endorsements can’t matter because these guys aren’t superdelegates.

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