ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who called her an "experienced, strong leader" who is "best prepared to lead in these difficult times."
Strickland’s support could be critical for Clinton should she win the Democratic nomination. Ohio was a key battleground state in 2004 and today Clinton said the road to the White House once again goes through Ohio.
"These are very serious times for our nation and the world and I believe we need a serious leader who is capable of bringing about the change that I think we so desperately need," Strickland told reporters on a conference call.
Strickland will travel to Iowa with Clinton tomorrow for the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines. Calling it "one of the great political events we have in America," Clinton said she wanted Strickland to experience first-hand 9000 Democrats "being whipped up and ready for the caucuses."
Their date in Des Moines also allows Clinton to showcase her latest endorsement to a packed house of Iowa Democrats who love electability. And nothing says electability like the support of the leader of one of the biggest battleground states.
Drag on downballot candidates?
Clinton was asked to address concerns that she would be a drag on downballot races if she wins the nomination. She said that this is not her experience as she campaigns across the country and pointed to the support she has from her Senate colleagues and a growing number of Members of Congress and state officials.
"I think what people are looking at is exactly what the governor said. Number one – who they believe would be the best president for these challenging times for our country and number two, who can win?," she said. "Who can be able to run an effective victorious campaign because at the end of the day in order to implement the policies that I care about and that Ted Strickland cares about, we have to take back the White House."
Strickland also dismissed those concerns and said that it is unlikely a Democrat or Republican can be successful next year without winning Ohio and Clinton is the candidate who can speak to the issues Ohioans care about and carry the state.
Angling for the VP slot?
Not surprisingly Clinton said it’s "way premature to be talking about running mates" and she is "not taking anything for granted."
Strickland stressed he is not running for the vice presidency.
"That is not something that I’m interested in," he said.
"I have said repeatedly I am not presumptuous enough to think that I would even be considered for the vice presidency. But if I was, I have no interest at all in the vice presidency," Strickland said. "I love being the governor of Ohio and will do whatever I can in that capacity to help Sen. Clinton win."