On a day that Sen. Hillary Clinton ended her presidential bid, one of her strongest Columbus backers threw his support to likely Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democratic National Convention delegate pledged to Clinton, said Saturday he holds Clinton in the highest regard, but he needed to change his vote despite the fact the Clinton campaign chose not release her pledged delegates.
"In August, I will cast my delegate vote for the next president of the United States, Barack Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver," Smyre said in a prepared statement. "We live now, more than ever, in a time that requires firm resolve, clear vision on issues affecting our country, and a deep faith in the values that make us a great nation. Senator Obama stands firm in his ability to make a shift in the way we, as Americans, think as leaders of the world. He is the best qualified to change the dynamics of the American dialogue, both socially and politically."
Smyre has been a critical supporter of Clinton's in the black community. The Columbus banker is president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators based in Washington.
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While Smyre is swinging his support to Obama before being released by Clinton, another Columbus convention delegate said she will continue to remain in the Clinton camp.
Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Bishop, the wife of Congressman Sanford Bishop, is a pledged Clinton delegate and was invited to attend the senator's Saturday speech, but could not go.
"When she releases her delegates, then I will commit to Sen. Obama," Bishop said Saturday. "I commend him, and I am happy for him. It is a great accomplishment. But I made a commitment to Hillary."
Congressman Bishop, who represents Georgia's Second Congressional District that includes a chunk of South Columbus, is one of Obama's state campaign chairmen. Rep. Bishop is a convention super delegate who has strongly backed the Illinois senator.
Smyre's relationship with the Clintons goes back the days before President Clinton won the White House. He had nothing but good things to say about Sen. Clinton.
"I have always held, and continue to hold, Hillary Clinton in the highest regard," Smyre said. "She is a woman whose character is rooted in public service. Her record achievement is not to be minimized. In fact, she should receive great accolades from our party and our country for the role she has played in reigniting the interest and passion of the American electorate during this spirited campaign."