With Bill Clinton at his side, Philadelphia Mayor-elect Michael Nutter tonight endorsed the presidential candidacy of the former president's wife, saying that she understood the challenges facing urban America.
Nutter's endorsement came during a fund-raiser/rally for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign that attracted about 1,000 people to the Electric Factory.
The mayor-elect told the crowd that he had come to his decision after talking several times with the Democratic presidential front-runner and determining that "her priorities are the right priorities for Philadelphia."
"It's time for cities and metropolitan areas to take their prominent place in America again," he declared.
In the Democratic mayoral primary in May, in which Nutter prevailed over four other candidates, Sen. Clinton remained neutral.
But Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her chief rival for the nomination, endorsed U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah for mayor, sending a late e-mail to Fattah supporters, asking them to contribute to the congressman's candidacy.
Nutter made no reference to Obama or any of the other Democratic candidates during his remarks.
"Philadelphia," he said tonight, "we need a friend in the White House."
Former President Clinton, of course, was the featured attraction. In his speech, he made the case that his wife - more so than any of her rivals for the nomination - had demonstrated the ability to perform as an effective agent of change.
"If you want someone who can make changes, as opposed to talking about making changes, you've got to take someone who's done it for 35 years against the odds," he said after rattling off many of her accomplishments both in and out of public office.
And he repeated a statement that he has made often during his campaign appearances throughout the land.
"If I were not married to her and she asked me to go campaign for her, to be on this platform here tonight, I would be here in a heartbeat because she's the best candidate I've ever come across," he said.
The former president began his day in eastern Iowa, which was hit by a severe ice storm that closed airports. He canceled his morning events there, he said, and drove several hours through the inclement weather to Chicago to catch a flight to Philadelphia.
Later in the evening, Clinton attended a big-ticket fund-raiser at the National Constitution Center at which several hundred major donors were expected. A campaign official said that the total proceeds of the night could approach $500,000, with the vast majority of it coming from the second event.
Tickets for the fund-raiser at the Electric Factory, at Seventh and Callowhill Streets, were priced at $25 for students and senior citizens, $50 for young professionals, and $100 for others.
The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for April 22. New Jersey votes on Feb. 5, along with 19 other states.