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Bobo, Ulman back Obama

The Baltimore Sun

With Maryland's primary election just days away, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and a former executive, Del. Elizabeth Bobo, have jumped off the political fence onto Barack Obama's bandwagon.

"For five months, I've been saying that if the election were today, I'd vote for Obama. I feel it's time to say it publicly," Bobo told a cheering crowd Wednesday from the stage of the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis during a campaign rally intended to help the Illinois senator build momentum for the "Chesapeake primaries" that include contests in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

But Bobo, Howard County's first female executive, made a point to praise Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I have deep and unending gratitude to Hillary Clinton and her husband for all they have done for our country," she said to applause.

Ulman said he made up his mind recently.

"This is the time when we can return to our values," he told the crowd, explaining that they are the same values he has talked about repeatedly as his goals for Howard County -- "acceptance, diversity and opportunity."

That theme, that Obama represents a more positive future and has the charisma and the message to draw people together rather than divide them, was stressed over and over by a variety of speakers, led by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings -- the two Obama co-chairmen for Maryland -- and by state Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Other Howard County officials attending were Del. Guy Guzzone, County Councilwoman Jen Terrasa and former Del. Neil F. Quinter. Councilman Calvin Ball and state Sen. James N. Robey also support Obama but did not attend.

Hillary Clinton, who counts Dels. Shane Pendergrass, Frank F. Turner, former Del. Virginia Thomas and Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty among her backers in Howard, issued a campaign statement yesterday from Mark Penn, chief strategist, contending that the Super Tuesday results show Clinton is still the candidate to beat in the Democratic contest.

Penn also claimed that support for Clinton is building and that she "had the momentum on [Super Tuesday]."

Clinton's local campaign chairmen are Gov. Martin O'Malley and U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

Pendergrass said her support for Clinton is based on years of work in the General Assembly on health care issues.

"I'm a legislator. I've learned to get things done. I look at Hillary Clinton and believe she can accomplish great things. Her focus on health care and her unhappy experience with it make her the most competent candidate to solve this huge domestic problem. Obama gives us hope, Hillary gives me confidence," she said, adding that both candidates are "good choices."

Cummings' remarks at the Obama rally were infused with near-religious fervor.

"Barack Obama is here to lead us to a better life. I can't tell you how much this man means to me," he said.

"Never did I dream in my lifetime I would see a Barack Obama emerge to tell us what we could do, rather than what we can't be," he said. Cummings said Obama is "surging" and will win.

"The campaign itself is the audacity of hope," he said, using the title of Obama's book. "Don't you get it?"

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