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Sweet: Obama to pick up endorsement of Sen. John Kerry. Kerry rejects 2004 runningmate Edwards. UPDATE Edwards statement.

updated at 11:47 a.m. eastern time

CHARLESTON, S.C.–White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) picks up his third Senate endorsement on Thursday–of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) the 2004 Democratic nominee, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday. Kerry will be joining Obama at a rally here at the College of Charleston this morning on a campus where moss is hanging from the oak and magnolia trees. Credit AP for the scoop.

Some endorsements don’t get much notice–some have some juice and this is one of them The Kerry endorsement is very big big. It’s a rejection by Kerry of his 2004 running mate, former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

It is surgically timed.

Kerry’s nod comes as the South Carolina primary is heating up–the only state Edwards won in 2004 and his last gasp to keep his candidacy alive. Kerry may be very useful to help shore up Obama on what has been his chronic weakness this year–questions by voters about his experience. Kerry vouching for Obama means a lot. It is also a bit of a snub to Clinton. It also helps push the New Hampshire loss into memory.

The biggest prize for the candidate who is setting himself as the heir apparent to John F. Kennedy Jr. is Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and he has not tipped his hand yet. It may be that he will now that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) dropped out of the presidential race.

Besides helping wholesale in the 22 Feb. 5 states coming up….plus the Nevada caucus and South Carolina votes that are teed up–Kerry’s endorsement could give pause to uncommitted superdelegates who were having second thoughts about Obama after he lost New Hampshire on Tuesday. (see column below for how Obama plans to roll out superdelegate endorsements this week. Kerry is a superdelegate.)

Edwards said in a statement the election is about the future, not the past–get it, Kerry is the past–and even though they ran together now Edwards is telling us they did not agree on all that much anyway. Our country and our Party are stronger because of Johns service, and I respect his decision. When we were running against each other and on the same ticket, John and I agreed on many issues,” Edwards said.

The two will be appear together at a rally here on a warm day at this beautiful historic college founded in 1770.

EDWARDS STATEMENT

EDWARDS STATEMENT ON SENATOR KERRYS ENDORSEMENT OF SENATOR OBAMA

Chapel Hill, North Carolina John Edwards released the following statement today about Senator John Kerrys endorsement of Senator Barack Obama.

Our country and our Party are stronger because of Johns service, and I respect his decision. When we were running against each other and on the same ticket, John and I agreed on many issues. I continue to believe that this election is about the future, not the past, and that the country needs a President who will fight aggressively to end the status quo and change the Washington system and to give voice to all of those whose voices are ignored in the corridors of power.

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