Sharpton endorses Kerry
Activist vows to pursue 'urban agenda'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton threw his support Monday behind Sen. John Kerry's Democratic candidacy for the White House, calling the senator a "good man."
However, Sharpton, a longtime civil rights activist whose own candidacy never won widespread support, declined to withdraw formally from the race. He said he would continue to campaign for delegates to the late-July Democratic National Convention in a bid to influence the party's platform. And he vowed to pursue what he called his "urban agenda."
After meeting with Kerry for half-an-hour Monday, Sharpton told reporters that the senator from Massachusetts "clearly has won the nomination." And he promised to work with other Democrats to "to defeat George Bush."
In a statement Monday afternoon, Sharpton said he wants a Democratic platform that "embraces affirmative action and cracks down on police brutality, improves schools in minority districts, increases minority access to health care and bolsters programs to create jobs for minorities."
"Sen. Kerry is a good man and will make a solid nominee for president," Sharpton said.
"I will do everything in my power to strengthen his candidacy among my constituents so that we may unify the party to give us the best chance of beating Bush this fall."
Sharpton described his meeting with Kerry as cordial.
In a statement, Kerry said he had "come to appreciate the warmth and candor [the] Rev. Al Sharpton exhibited in so many primary debates and forums across America. No one can argue with his ability to cut through the double-talk we see coming from this administration."
Kerry said he welcomed Sharpton's endorsement and shared many of his concerns.
While Sharpton was a colorful and eloquent figure on the campaign trail -- often standing out at party debates -- he failed to win a state primary or caucus. And he never enjoyed the kind of strong and significant support among minority voters that Jesse Jackson had when he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988.
Besides Kerry, the only remaining Democrat actively seeking the party's presidential nomination is Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. But like Sharpton, Kucinich has not won any state contests, and he lags in the polls and in fund raising.
A CNN survey last week found that Kerry has won the 2,162 delegates needed to claim the party's nomination. It also showed Sharpton has garnered 27 convention delegates and Kucinich has 23. (CNN interactive special: Primary explainer)