Gov. Mike Easley endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday, boosting her presidential bid a week before North Carolina's May 6 primary.
Appearing onstage with Clinton and his wife, Mary, the two-term Democrat declared the New York senator "gets it."
"It's time for somebody to be in the White House who understands the challenges we face in this country," Easley said, adding a gentle dig at rival Barack Obama's signature slogan of hope.
"There's been lots of 'Yes we can, yes we should.' Hillary Clinton is ready to deliver," Easley said.
Easley is term-limited and will leave office early next year. Both Democrats vying for the party's nomination to replace him have endorsed Obama, whom polls show with a substantial lead over Clinton in the state.
Clinton, in turn, praised Easley as a champion of economic development in his state.
"The governor and I have something in common — we think results matter," Clinton said.
Easley is popular among white, working-class Democrats in the state, whom Obama has been eager to woo. He is also one of the all-important "superdelegates" likely to choose the party's nominee if both Obama and Clinton fail to secure enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination.
Easley is the second North Carolina superdelegate to endorse Clinton. Obama has the backing of six of the 17 superdelegates in the state.
Obama currently leads Clinton in the popular vote and among pledged delegates. He's also narrowed her lead among superdelegates.
Easley and Clinton began the day touring a biotechnology lab at North Carolina State University. She was headed later to Indiana, which also holds a May 6 primary. Polls there show a much tighter contest.