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Taking Sides 

Local Matters

BURLINGTON - The Barack Obama train continued to chug through the Green Mountains this week, picking up steam along the way - not to mention three key passengers from Vermont's political scene.

Attorney General William Sorrell and State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding will announce their endorsement - the first from Vermont officials of their stature - of Obama this Wednesday, September 12, at Club Metronome in downtown Burlington. Former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle will also announce his backing.

Sorrell says both Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Obama (D-IL) sought his endorsement. Clinton's camp contacted the AG as recently as last week, but he says he told them he'd already made up his mind to support Obama. "I think he'd be a great president. I think he's a very smart guy and has a tremendous range of life experience," says Sorrell. "I am not trying to say negative things about any Democratic candidate for president. I just have positive things to say about Barack Obama."

Clavelle, speaking Tuesday morning about his motivation to support the freshman senator, called Obama the candidate for change. "After years of George Bush in the White House, it's time for . . . a new vision, a new spirit," he says.

Spaulding could not be reached for comment as of press time.

With the Vermont primary a little more than six months away, on March 4, Clavelle says it's time to get on board. "The train's leaving the station, and you either watch it go by or jump on. I don't think it's early at all, given the front-loading of the primary schedule. For those who care about the election cycle," he emphasized, "now's the time to get involved."

The endorsements from prominent Vermont politicos are yet another indication that Obama may be the state's Democratic choice for the presidential nomination. An August fundraiser at the Norwich home of Bill and Jane Stetson netted more than $250,000 for the Obama cause; the Illinois senator is, so far, the leading fundraiser in Vermont.

Sorrell, Spaulding and Clavelle will make their announcement at the Club Obama Organizing Party, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at 188 Main Street in Burlington.

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