Sen. Barack Obama's 2008 presidential candidacy picked up some Utah endorsements Wednesday.
They included a significant number of the Democratic legislative leadership in the House and Senate, who announced their support for the Illinois senator during a lunchtime news conference at the Capitol. Later, former Congressman Bill Orton announced in a news release that he is also supporting Obama.
House Minority Leader Rep. Brad King, D-Price, said Obama "has the electability to bring change to this country.
"Barack Obama is the candidate that tells people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear," King said. "I don't want someone with a plan. ... I want someone with a vision."
Members from both legislative houses were in attendance to voice their support for the Illinois senator. The legislators made note of the third Obama campaign office recently opening in Park City, as well as a planned Monday visit by his wife, Michelle, as proof that he can generate excitement in even the reddest of states.
Rep. Carolyn Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said she hadn't seen this kind of excitement about a presidential contender since John F. Kennedy. Moss said Obama is the key to bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together with a purpose.
Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, said that he initially was backing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson because he felt that as a mountain-state governor, he would be sensitive to the same set of issues and challenges that Utah faces. With Richardson out of the race, McCoy said he feels that Obama "can and will bring change."
When the legislators were asked what policy issues separate the two leading Democratic contenders, Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, differing answers emerged.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said Obama's approach to health care reform was more comprehensive and superior to Clinton's campaign proposals.
McCoy highlighted each candidate's initial response to the war in Iraq, noting that Obama stated from the beginning that it was a bad idea but that Clinton's position had changed from support to criticism.Utah voters get their opportunity to weigh-in on the presidential race on Feb. 5 as one of 22 states holding Democratic primaries/caucuses. Utah delegates represent a relatively tiny portion of the 1,681 that will be awarded on Feb. 5, so-called "Super Tuesday," contributing only 29. Currently, Clinton leads the delegate count with 249 to Obama's 181. The Democratic presidential nomination requires 2,025.