Exclusive: Obama 'Would Love Edwards' Support'

Obama says he'd like Edwards' endorsement, calls McCain a formidable candidate.

Jan. 29, 2007— -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Sen. Barack Obama said that he has let former Sen. John Edwards know that he would like his endorsement should Edwards decide to drop out of the race. While Obama did not admit to rumors of back-door-dealings for delegate sharing, he said that he would strongly welcome a nod from Edwards.

"There is no doubt that I would love John's support, but I also respect the fact that he is in this contest. He is actively seeking the nomination, and he is a formidable candidate," Obama told "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran.

On the day that Sen. John McCain claimed victory in Florida's Republican primary, Obama also said that he believes he would be the best candidate to take on McCain in a general election if that were the scenario. Recent polls have Obama and McCain at a dead heat in a hypothetical general election matchup.

"I think John's going to be a formidable candidate if he becomes the nominee for any Democrat." While Obama said that there's "no Republican he wouldn't worry about," he believes that record turnout among Democratic voters would give him a competitive edge over McCain.

"We have literally doubled turnout in every state, doubled it," Obama said. "That's unheard of."

No Place Like Home

Obama played up his Kansas roots today in an attempt to sway the Plains State voters who cast their ballots on Super Tuesday. With Sen. Hillary Clinton polling ahead of him in most of the Feb. 5 primary states, Obama will need every state he can get.

In a campaign speech in EL Dorado -- a small town where Obama's grandfather is from -- Obama mentioned his grandparents a lot in an attempt to connect with voters and perhaps to shed the image of himself as "exotic."

"Our family's story is one that spans miles and generations; races and realities, "Obama told the crowd. "It's a varied and unlikely journey, but one that's held together by the same simple dream. And that is why it's an American story."

Obama not only painted his family as the embodiment of the American dream but also stressed his "Midwestern" sensibility." I don't tend to look at problems and say, 'OK, I'm liberal on this issue, I'm conservative on that issue. ' I tend much more to think what is right and how do I think I can solve a problem."

And while Obama spent the day focusing on his white mother's side of the family, he said that coming out to Kansas had nothing to do with race.

"No, that isn't the case, because I think that's actually pretty well known," Obama said of his white background. "I think that the purpose of this trip is to explain that there are a set of values and roots here in the Midwest, and that although Kansas is now considered this red state, irrevocably Republican, that there are connections between all of us."

'We're 'Scrappy'

Obama's visit to El Dorado marks the beginning of his pre-Super Tuesday blitz, where he is working hard to get his name out to voters as well as court switchover Republican voters in red states like Kansas.

Obama -- whose campaign will spend more than $5 million on TV ads between now and Super Tuesday -- admits that Clinton's name recognition gives her a huge advantage over him in those Feb. 5 primary states.

"There's no doubt Sen. Clinton's got a huge advantage on Super Tuesday. She's much better known across the country. She's been leading in the polls, in the national polls, and in a lot of these individual state polls," Obama said, adding with a smile that "We're scrappy, though."

He believes that getting votes in the Feb. 5 states will boil down to the question of time and money.

"What we've learned is that I can get votes anywhere, and that if I have enough time for the voters to know my character , but also my policies, then we can win," Obama said. "Are we going to get our message out in time? I think we have a good chance."

Will Kansas Go Blue?

Sebelius' endorsement had long been courted by the Democratic candidates. No Democratic nominee for the White House has won Kansas' electoral votes since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

"I think he's one of the candidates, maybe the only one of the candidates I see who actually has a chance of bringing Kansas into the presidential column as a blue state," Sebelius said of Obama. "It happened only twice in our state, but it could happen again."

Obama is counting on his self-described ability to bring people together to make it happen.

"The cross currents of this country, race and ethnicity and religion, all those things that oftentimes are presented as dividing lines … I've swam in those waters, and I know that in fact they're all part of one big river that is the American story."