Kucinich Asks Supporters to Back Obama

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday asked his supporters to make rival Barack Obama their second choice if he doesn't meet a cutoff point for voting in Iowa's caucuses.

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman at the back of the pack of Democratic hopefuls, seemed to concede a loss in the caucuses. He said his recommendation was for "Iowa only."

"Senator Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters," Kucinich said in a statement.

Candidates in Thursday night's caucuses must reach a level of support in each of the state's 1,781 precincts — typically 15 percent of those who attend. Candidates who fail to meet that aren't considered viable, and their supporters can move to another candidate or go home.

"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice ... because of my singular positions on the war, on health care and trade," Kucinich said. "But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice."

Obama thanked Kucinich for the recommendation.

"I have a lot of respect for Congressman Kucinich, and I'm honored that he has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change," the Illinois senator said in a statement.

He said he and Kucinich have fought for some of the same priorities, including ending the war in Iraq, reforming Washington and creating a better life for working families.

In the 2004 presidential campaign, Kucinich and former Sen. John Edwards agreed to encourage their supporters to back each other if they weren't viable. The pact was credited with boosting the vote for Edwards, who finished a surprise second.

Last summer, Kucinich criticized Edwards' "consistent lack of integrity" for suggesting fewer candidates should participate in presidential forums. Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton had discussed the possibility of limiting the number of debate participants, and their exchange was captured on camera and an open microphone after one such event in Detroit. Kucinich felt the comment was directed at him.