CBNNews.com -- Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has endorsed his former rival Barack Obama for president.
The announcement was made before an audience of thousands in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the two men are campaigning together.
"The Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I," Edwards said. "There is one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America and not two, and that man is Barack Obama."
The move comes a day after Obama lost the West Virginia primary to Sen. Clinton by a margin of 67 percent to 26 percent.
"In the past few weeks I've gotten to know Sen. Clinton very well. We've talked. We've met in North Carolina," Edwards said. "She believes with every fiber of her being that America can be a better place and that we need change."
"It is very hard to get up everyday and do what she's done, when the odds turn against her," he said. "And what she has shown is strength and character. She is a leader in the country not because of her husband, but because of what she has done."
Edwards nod of approval is expected to help Obama shore up the support of working class voters -- a segment of the population that he has been unable to win.
Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a written statement, "We respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed last night, this thing is far from over."
Both Clinton and Obama had been courting Edwards endorsement for months, but remained neutral. When Edwards made his decision to back Obama, he did so privately, in order talk to Clinton first.
A person close to Edwards, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he wanted to get involved now to begin unifying the party. Edwards has 19 pledged delegates that he won in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina before he dropped out of the race.
Edwards ran for vice president in 2004 with Sen. John Kerry heading the ticket.
Source: CBN News, The Associated Press