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Inside Politics

Kucinich throws support to Kerry

Ohio congressman to speak at convention in Boston

• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
America Votes 2004
Democratic Party

DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -- With the Democratic National Convention set to begin next week, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced his support Thursday for Sen. John Kerry as the party's presidential candidate, representatives for both Democrats said.

"The next critical step we must take is to help elect John Kerry as the next president of the United States," Kucinich told reporters. "The word is unity. That is the operative word."

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, had sought the nomination but never garnered enough support to be a serious contender in the primaries.

Emphasizing the importance of the party uniting in a common effort for change, Kucinich said his volunteers will be enlisted to help the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

"This is a very happy, a very pleasant moment for me," said Kerry, who also spoke at the news conference.

Earlier, Kerry spoke to the National Urban League, the oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering blacks in economic and social areas.

"I've watched this man crisscross the country," Kerry said. "When we disagreed -- which we did on a number of issues -- we agreed to do it agreeably."

Kucinich comes from Ohio and knows the devastation of the economy in his state, Kerry said. "This is a man who knows what the middle class is struggling with today."

Kerry will receive the party's official nomination at the convention in Boston, which gets under way Monday. (CNN Election Express: The road to Boston)

Kucinich will speak at the convention Wednesday.

"We are very pleased he made the decision," Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson said.

Another Democratic official praised Kucinich's decision as well as the timing of his announcement.

"Not only does this clear the Democratic field with the convention days away, but it gives Kerry another bridge to organized labor in Ohio," the official said.

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

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