Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and a one-time opponent of civil rights legislation, endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday.
Obama is vying to be the nation’s first black president.
Byrd’s support comes almost a week after the Illinois senator’s 41-point loss to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the longtime lawmaker’s home state of West Virginia.
Byrd has repeatedly apologized for his time in the Ku Klux Klan, which he joined as a young man in the 1940s to fight communism. He also opposed integrating the military, and filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Byrd is the longest-serving senator in history. As Senate president pro tempore, he is in line for the presidency after the vice president and House speaker.