Organizers of Barack Obama's two-day swing through Florida last week didn't advertise it, but the Democratic presidential candidate lunched with perhaps the most important potential endorsement in the state: former Sen. Bob Graham.
Hillary Clinton has a strong lead in the Florida polls and much of the state's political establishment locked up, making Graham's seal of approval even more valuable to Obama. Unlike Clinton, both Obama and Graham opposed the war in Iraq from the start.
Graham wouldn't say whether an endorsement was forthcoming. "I gave him advice, as I have given Sen. Clinton as well,'' he said. "I'm for nominating the person who has the best chance of getting elected.''
Graham, who has advocated a system of regional presidential primaries, was also asked about the sentence handed to Florida Democrats on Saturday by the Democratic National Committee: get behind the Jan. 29 primary and lose all delegates to the national convention or hold a post Feb. 5 caucus and allow party activists to chose the winner.
"Having 20 states vote on Feb. 5, which is legal under the party rules, is much more disruptive than having one state vote on Jan. 29,'' said Graham, who ran for president in 2004. "I think Florida has become a lightning rod for the larger problem."
"The primary is currently a matter of state law, and the state is going to organize and pay for it,'' he added. "There's not frankly a lot Democrats can do to change that... Whether or not we have a full slate of delegates, it's the fourth largest state in the country and the most competitive, and when it throws its weight behind a candidate, that's what is important."
Graham will appear in a National Geographic documentary, "Road to War: Iraq," that will air at 9 p.m. tonight. Read about his interview here.