Barack Obama's presidential campaign received a significant boost in Minnesota this morning, when Rep. Jim Oberstar endorsed the Illinois senator.

Oberstar, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, had been supporting the candidacy of John Edwards until the former North Carolina senator dropped out of the race this week.

"I was proud of his campaign," Oberstar said of Edwards during a conference call with reporters. "I felt he conducted himself vigorously, but it wasn't enough."

He said Obama "has shown the ability to project a soaring image of the future of America."

The campaigns of both Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been furiously courting Edwards supporters nationwide (and Edwards himself) in the hopes of attracting Democrats who had planned to vote for him on Super Tuesday, when the party holds primaries and caucuses in 22 states, including Minnesota.

Oberstar was one of four U.S. House members -- including North Dakota's Earl Pomeroy -- who announced their switch from Edwards to Obama this morning. At the same time, Obama's campaign released the names of 30 other elected officials across the nation who had endorsed him.

Oberstar said Obama will attract strong union support, one of Edwards' principal sources of support, across the Eighth Congressional District, where labor organizations retain considerable clout in a corner of the state that is heavily DFL.

"Senator Obama embodies all of the values the labor movement has espoused," Oberstar said. "He would stand firm with us."

Bob von Sternberg • 612-673-7184