TRENTON - The high-profile mayor of New Jersey's largest city says he endorses Sen. Barack Obama for president.
Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker said he would officially announce his endorsement at a news conference with Obama today, when the senator arrives in New Jersey to attend a number of events, including a town-hall meeting with union members in Trenton.
"It's time that we have a national leader that's going to raise us around our highest common ideals and remind us that we have more in common as a people than we do that divides us," Booker told the Associated Press.
"I really believe that America's destiny is going to be determined by us waking up to a larger common purpose. The best person, in my opinion, that represents that kind of prophetic leadership is Barack Obama," Booker said.
Booker, who has been linked with Obama as part of a new generation of black leaders, said he would not only endorse Obama, but would also be a part of the campaign's leadership in New Jersey.
"It's been a long time since I've been so excited about a candidate as I am with Barack Obama," Booker said. "I feel very fortunate to be mayor of the largest city of the state. It's important that I step up and work on the national level to ensure that we have a president that best represents New Jersey's interests and Newark's interests in particular."
Booker, a former Rhodes scholar and Yale Law School graduate, said he met Obama through a mutual friend, Gayle King, who is Oprah Winfrey's best friend and an editor of O, the Oprah Magazine.
"I've had two years to see him in a lot of different lights, and he has a profoundly inspiring character and ideals, combined with a brilliant intellect that make him a truly great candidate," Booker said.
Other Democratic leaders in the state have already thrown their support to candidates, with Senate President Richard J. Codey endorsing former Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Corzine backing Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Booker, who has spoken of his friendship with Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said the Democratic Party had a number of quality candidates and that Clinton was among them.
"I have a great deal of respect for her, but at this point my support lies with Obama because I think his qualities are what America needs to lead us forward," he said.
Most polls have shown Clinton with a healthy lead over Obama in New Jersey.
A Quinnipiac University poll taken from April 10 to 16 gave Clinton a 38 percent to 16 percent lead over Obama, who visited Trenton in 2005 when he was helping Corzine campaign for governor and in 2006 when he helped Sen. Robert Menendez campaign for office.