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Andrew on his switch

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Former DNC Chairman and superdelegate Joe Andrew drew a sharp line in the sand between himself and Clinton and called for the rest of the superdelegates -- and Democrats in his home state of Indiana -- to "heal the rift in this party and to unite around Barack Obama now," he said. "It's time for us to take on John McCain," who he reiterated has "been helped by this process."

The former Bill Clinton-appointed DNC chairman and early Hillary Clinton backer said Clinton's latest stand on the gas tax holiday, which he said essentially amounted to nothing more than political pandering, was "really one of the straws that broke the camel's back" in his decision to switch from Clinton to Obama.

"We have two good candidates, but we have two people who've run their campaigns in two different ways," Andrew said. "Barack Obama is serious about changing the process in politics …. That's what inspires me, and I haven't been inspired in a long time. I'm Inspired by someone who says you know we don't have to play the game.

"The gas tax [proposal] is a perfect example of that. It's also important to point out when someone is pandering and seeking political gain, as opposed to standing up for principle."

Whether it was Obama's handling of Wright or the gas tax holiday, Andrew said, "What you see is a principled stand, and that is truly shocking to people like me who've been in politics a long time."

Andrew went further on why he thinks Obama is the better candidate. "Barack Obama has to be the winner of our nomination," he said, citing that he has "more appeal to moderate, centrist America. I've always been seen as a centrist in our party. It's not just about positions; it's also about tone, it's about temperament."

Andrew tried to strike a unifying chord, saying Clinton and Gore would go down as the best tandem to serve the office. He also called Clinton and Obama an "embarrassment of riches" and said they were both good candidates. "You can be for someone without being against someone else," he said, but he added, "What I assume … is that she'd [Clinton] play the political theatre better than anyone else."

He said that he'd expect her to be good at putting out "symbols" and "signifiers" that would best get a "majority of people her way. What's inspiring about Barack Obama is that he doesn't do that. What I saw were principled answers and policy solutions. He's not going to get into political theatre … not going to put on that Kabuki Mask and do that."

He again called Obama "principled," who "stands up and says, 'No we don't have to do that. We can sit around a kitchen table and talk about real solutions … not about something that'll save you a half tank of gas."

Andrew also wrote a letter explaining his switch and tried to pre-but potential Clinton surrogate attacks on him for making the move. Here are some excerpts:

My endorsement of Senator Obama will not be welcome news to my friends and family at the Clinton campaign.  If the campaign's surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton's cabinet, a "Judas" for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me.  They are the best practitioners of the old politics, so they will no doubt call me a traitor, an opportunist and a hypocrite.  I will be branded as disloyal, power-hungry, but most importantly, they will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton.

When they use the same attacks made on me when I was defending them, they prove the callow hypocrisy of the old politics first perfected by Republicans.  I am an expert on this because these were the exact tools that I mastered as a campaign volunteer, a campaign manager, a State Party Chair and the National Chair of our Party.

Innuendo is easy. The truth is hard.

Sound bites are easy. Solutions are hard.

Spin is simple and easy.  Struggling with facts is complicated and hard.

The old players of the old political game will claim that I am betraying my old friend Senator Evan Bayh by switching my support to Senator Obama.  I believe that Evan Bayh would be a great President, and therefore a great Vice President.  I will continue to argue that he would be a great choice to be on the ticket with Barack Obama.