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After weeks of speculation, Gov. Bill Richardson is endorsing Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president. His announcement early this morning stuns many constituents because Richardson is a longtime friend of former President Bill Clinton and wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is in a bitter battle with Obama for the White House.Clinton and Obama have actively sought Richardson’s endorsement since he dropped out of the presidential race in January. Clinton has garnered a majority of Hispanic votes in primaries and caucuses, according to exit polls. She won New Mexico’s caucus last month with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage among Hispanics. As the nation’s sole Hispanic governor, Richardson has the potential to lead the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority to Obama.“There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama has the judgment and courage we need in a commander in chief when our nation’s security is on the line,” Richardson said in a statement. “He showed this judgment by opposing the Iraq war from the start, and he has shown it during this campaign by standing up for a new era in American leadership internationally.”He called Obama a “once-in-a-lifetime leader” who can unite the nation and restore America’s international leadership.The governor’s endorsement comes at a time when Obama is leading among delegates selected at primaries and caucuses but with national polls showing Clinton pulling ahead of him amid controversy over racially charged statements by his former pastor.Richardson is a Democratic superdelegate who could lead other superdelegates to vote for Obama. The governor also has been mentioned as a possible running mate for either candidate. Richardson has stated for weeks that deciding between Obama and Clinton is very difficult. He served as ambassador to the U.N. and as secretary of the Energy Department during the Clinton administration. He and former President Clinton watched the Super Bowl together in January.Richardson praised Hillary Clinton as a “distinguished leader with vast experience” but said Obama “will be a historic and great president, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.” Richardson was a diplomatic troubleshooter when he was a congressman from New Mexico. He negotiated the release of U.S. hostages in several countries and met with a gallery of U.S. adversaries, including Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro.“There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama has the judgment and courage we need in a commander in chief when our nation’s security is on the line,” Richardson said in a statement obtained by the AP. “He showed this judgment by opposing the Iraq war from the start, and he has show it during this campaign by standing up for a new era in American leadership internationally. I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America’s moral leadership in the world. As a presidential candidate, I know full well Sen. Obama’s unique moral ability to inspire the American people to confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad in a spirit of bipartisanship and reconciliation.” Obama said he was “deeply honored” to have Richardson’s support, according to the AP. “Whether it’s fighting to end the Iraq war or stop the genocide in Darfur or prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, Gov. Richardson has been a powerful voice on issues of global security, peace and justice, earning five Nobel Peace Prize nominations,” Obama said in a statement.Richardson is scheduled to appear with Obama today at a campaign event in Portland, Ore., according to the AP.The next primary is in Pennsylvania, coming up April 22.