Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said on Tuesday that he is backing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in his campaign for president.

“Not because he’s black,” said Ellison, who is black. “That’s identity politics. I reject identity politics.

“He speaks with a unifying spirit,” Ellison said.

Speaking to a Black History Month lunch-hour event for about 100 employees at Star Tribune headquarters in Minneapolis, Ellison said he supports Obama’s message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.

Ellison, from Minneapolis, is the first black elected to Congress from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected from any state.

He also acknowledged that he may wind up supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., if she were to win the Democratic Party nomination.

“But who’s going to keep her honest?” he added, explaining his support for Obama at this stage of the campaign.


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