A leading pro-choice group endorsed likely Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama this week in an effort to bolster his campaign before his predicted face off with Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, who has an unbroken pro-life senate voting record.
The endorsement by Naral Pro-Choice America, announced on Wednesday, angered some affiliated abortion rights groups and activists because of the organization's longtime support of Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to the New York Times. Many pro-choice groups felt the Democratic candidates had equally good records on reproductive rights and did not want Naral to take sides in the party's primary.
However, Naral's president, Nancy Keenan, explained the decision by highlighting Obama as the more viable candidate – the Illinois senator leads in delegate count and could secure the party's nomination as early as Tuesday. She also said the endorsement now was important because McCain, who opposes abortion, was getting a "free ride."
"Pro-choice Americans have been fortunate to have two strong pro-choice candidates in Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, both of whom have inspired millions of new voters to participate in this historic presidential race," Keenan said in a statement. "Today, we are proud to put our organization's grass-roots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Senator Obama."
The pro-choice group's political director, Elizabeth Shipp, added that endorsing Obama would also help the group break away from its image as an organization for white women only.
But while pro-choice groups argue over which democratic candidate is more praise-worthy for their support of abortion rights, pro-family groups lambasted both candidates for exactly the same reason.
Focus on the Family, a Christian pro-family group, had denounced Obama as a "fundamentalist left-winger" and "no friend" of values voters earlier this year for his strong support of abortion and gay "marriage."
Likewise, Tony Perkins of the influential Family Research Council criticized Obama as "extremely" liberal to the point of challenging the establishment of the Democratic Party.
"He is to the left of Hillary Clinton, that is maybe why he isn't talking about the issues," Perkins had said in an FOTF Citizenlink special earlier.
Perkins advised values voters to not be lured by Obama's attractive oratory skills, but rather to look at the candidate's voting records and past performances.
Obama's pro-choice Naral support came on the same day that he nailed the major endorsement of former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina – a former Democratic presidential candidate in this year's election and the Democratic Party's vice president nominee in 2004.
Obama and Clinton's next primary face-off will take place in the states of Kentucky and Oregon on Tuesday.