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Blackwell drops bid; endorses Steele

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell dropped his bid for RNC Chair, and gave an impassioned endorsement of Michael Steele.

"We must be a party that makes good on the promise of Lincoln," said Blackwell, an African American, just before endorsing Steele, who is also black.

Through four rounds, Blackwell had 15 votes. He started with 20 after Round One.

It will be interesting to see where his votes go in Round Five, however, because many of his supporters are considered the most conservative in the party. Dawson would have seemed to be the likely recipient before his full-throated endorsement of Steele.

"I cannot change the composition of this electorate [pause for laughs] nore would I want to," Blackwell said.

But he added, Republicans must "unleash a new birth of freedom" He said, Republicans need a candidate who "must inspire hope," "have leadership ability and a "vision to pull us together and ... Americans together" ...

"That is why I put my fullest support behind Michael Steele."