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Pennsylvania's Murtha endorses Clinton for president

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  • Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennslyvania, endorses Hillary Clinton for president
  • Murtha is a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq
  • He was the first of senior lawmakers to call for an immediate withdrawal
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(CNN) -- Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran who has become one of Congress' most outspoken critics of the Iraq war, on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, saying she is "the candidate that will forge a consensus on health care, education, the economy and the war in Iraq."

Iraq war critic Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, has endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president.

"In 10 months, President Bush will leave office," said Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a written statement. "Our country is worse off today than when he took office over seven years ago."

He said he has known Clinton, D-New York, for 15 years and that "she continually reaches out for opinions and ideas, not just from our nation's leaders, but from all Americans."

"This week, she highlighted the policy failures in Iraq and addressed the real challenges we face in regards to rebuilding our military, restoring our readiness and fully preparing our armed forces to meet and deter future threats," Murtha said. "I know that Senator Clinton has a similar position that I have in regards to the war in Iraq. Her experience and careful consideration of these issues convinced me that she is best qualified to lead our nation and to bring credibility back to the White House."

Murtha recently told Congressional Quarterly that he and fellow Pennsylvania Democrats Rep. Mike Doyle and Rep. Robert Brady would vote as a bloc in the presidential election. Also, several elected officials close to Murtha had held off making their own endorsements pending his decision.

Murtha, 75, initially supported the Iraq war, although he criticized the Bush administration's handling of it and supported fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president in 2004. He completed the about-face in November 2005 when he called for the immediate redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq, saying, "U.S. and coalition troops have done all they can ... it's time for a change in direction." He was the first of senior lawmakers to call for an immediate withdrawal. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

--CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report.

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