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Villaraigosa embraces Obama

June 6, 2008 |  4:32 pm

ObamaLos Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went beyond hinting today that he would support Barack Obama's presidential bid as the Democratic nominee:

"I’m excited about Barack Obama,’’ Villaraigosa told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this afternoon. "His clarion call for change touched a cord all across the nation, and I’m going to work as hard for him as I did for Hillary Clinton."

Villaraigosa promised to go “anywhere they ask me to go’’ to help him defeat presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain in November.

Villaraigosa also downplayed Obama's failure to win many Latino votes during the Democratic primaries. Click on the link below to read more from the Times' newest City Hall reporter, Phil Wilon.

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo (October 2006): Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

He dismissed concerns about Obama’s trouble appealing to Latino voters in the primaries, saying the Latino community’s support for Clinton had more to do with the "long history and long relationship" it had with her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. He added that recent polls showed that Latino voters heavily favor Obama over McCain.

"Here in California, we recognize just how important it is for us to invest on health care, to assure that working families and their children have a fair shake. That we’re making education our priority," Villaraigosa said. "Those are issues ... that are important in the Latino community, in California overall, and I think across the country. And that’s why you’re going to see a groundswell of support for Sen. Obama."

Villaraigosa praised Clinton as a “woman of incredible courage and intestinal fortitude,’’ and even had some nice things to say about McCain. But he said Obama is the agent of change that voters in the country are desperate for.

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