Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who abandoned his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination two weeks ago, will endorse Bill Clinton today or Thursday in New York, sources said Tuesday.
People close to the Harkin organization said the endorsement will come in exchange for prime consideration for the vice presidency, but a Clinton campaign official discounted that.
The Clinton campaign official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the endorsement is likely to happen on Thursday and that Clinton and Harkin have had “a lot of good discussions.”
He refused to say whether the vice presidency had figured into the talks or whether Harkin’s campaign debts had come up. Harkin’s debt has been estimated at more than $300,000, and the Arkansas governor could be in a position to help him raise funds to pay it off.
When Harkin pulled out of the race on March 9, he cited the debt and the inability to raise more money as his reasons. Sources said talks about a Clinton endorsement began almost immediately after the withdrawal.
Harkin, who has strong support among organized labor, could help Clinton deflect that support from the other remaining candidate in the race, former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. Brown has been scooping up labor support since Harkin withdrew, using endorsements in Nevada, Michigan, Connecticut and New York to advantage.
Despite labor support, Harkin failed to capture any primaries, but he did win caucuses in Iowa, Idaho and Minnesota.
Lorraine Voles, Harkin’s press secretary, said she could neither confirm nor deny that Harkin would endorse Clinton.
“We have no official announcement on that right now,” she said. “All I can tell you is that Sen. Harkin has talked with Gov. Clinton” about a possible endorsement.