AS THE DEMOCRATIC presidential primary continues to unfold across Pennsylvania, and especially here in Philadelphia, the focus has become increasingly blurred.

Race, gender, supporters' comments, domestic issues, international issues and personality are all clamoring for our attention.

In my view, the most important issue in this election is selecting the candidate who is best equipped to help us revitalize and energize our city and make Philadelphia America's number one metropolis.

With that in mind, I believe that the best candidate for Philadelphia is the one who has not only ideas but the skills to implement them, is willing to embrace change while also working in collaboration with us at the local level, is experienced and willing to extend a helping hand and possesses both good judgment and a profound sense of social justice.

Based on those criteria, I've made my decision on which candidate I support. I have endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has an impressive, 35-year record of fighting on behalf of working families and children; fighting for universal health care for every American, and has a comprehensive plan to end the war in Iraq and restore our standing around the world.

But, most importantly, she has a strong commitment to revitalizing our urban centers, and I believe that under her leadership our American cities will rise again.

The Hillary Clinton agenda for revitalizing Philadelphia and other major metropolitan areas is called Leave No City Behind, and it creates a vital partnership between our efforts here in Philadelphia and the efforts of the federal government.

Consider this fact: Across the nation we have seen our infrastructure crumbling. From the horrific impact of Katrina in New Orleans, to last summer's bridge collapse in Minnesota, to last week's emergency repairs on I-95. Senator Clinton will work with our city to create a true federal-local partnership that helps repair our deteriorating infrastructure before disaster strikes.

Senator Clinton's Leave No City Behind agenda also takes on violent crime, for example, by reinstituting the COPS grant program that was so effective in the 1990s, providing resources for hiring more community police officers. It also tackles crime at its root by channeling resources toward improving re-entry programs to reduce recidivism, which in turn reduces the crime rate. Philadelphia has an effective program for re-entry, and Hillary Clinton believes the federal government should, too.

Senator Clinton includes in her urban agenda an aggressive program to improve our educational system by creating increased access to high-quality early childhood education programs and better K-12 outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, the Leave No City Behind agenda does NOT include the No Child Left Behind program, a colossal failure that turned students into test takers and issued mandates with no money to implement them.

Of course, no urban agenda would be complete without a plan to lift city residents up out of poverty and Senator Clinton's plan will help by making sure every person has access to quality, affordable health care, raising the minimum wage, taking aggressive steps to keep families in their homes, and providing job training opportunities for at risk youth.

It includes an ambitious green-collar job-training initiative that would train more than a million workers in our inner cities to rebuild and retrofit buildings to be more eco-friendly. And it promotes the creation of an urban infrastructure bank to help drive investment in our urban building projects. This is just the kind of leadership our country needs.

These issues are important to the citizens of Philadelphia but also to people across the nation. I took my time talking with the candidates and weighing my options before I chose a candidate to support, and I would expect nothing less from voters in Philadelphia. I believe that Senator Clinton shares my commitment to healing lives and broken families while, at the same time, healing a nation and fulfilling its promises to its citizens.

It's a new day in Philadelphia and Hillary Clinton is bringing new leadership to the country and to our city that I believe will make life better - for all of us. I encourage everyone to take a close look at Senator Clinton's record and her vision. The leadership that you see today is a preview of the kind of leader she will be as our president.

Philadelphia needs Hillary Clinton as a friend in the White House. *

Michael A. Nutter is the mayor of Philadelphia.