30 Years After His First White House Bid, Jesse Jackson Ready To Back Hillary

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UPDATED: Friday May 16, 2014 3:03 PM

Exactly thirty years since his first run for the White House, the Rev Jesse Jackson says he's ready to back Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, despite having put into motion changes in the nominating process that ultimately crushed her last campaign in 2008.

"Hillary Clinton has the experience, she's been tested under fire, she's lived in the governor’s mansion, she's lived in the White House and traveled the world," said Jackson.  "Hillary has in my judgement the great stuff of what presidents are made."

Jackson supported Barack Obama and not Clinton in the spirited fight for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

His name was injected into the contest after Obama won the South Carolina primary and former president Bill Clinton dismissed it, pointing out that Jackson had also won the state in 1984 and 1988.

He would lose the Democratic nomination both years.

Many Obama supporters interpreted Clinton's remarks as an attempt to highlight Obama's race.

Jackson now says that his two unsuccessful bids for the White House changed the rules for selecting Democratic Delegates to the national convention that allowed Obama, and not Clinton, to ultimately win the nomination in 2008.

"We changed the rules to proportionality, as opposed to winner-take-all which is a way of suppressing votes," said Jackson.  "By '88 I had as many Delegates as I had popular votes.  When Barack ran in 2008, Hillary Clinton won, at the end, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas barely.  She would have been the winner except we had democratized democracy and opened the process up."

Upon reflecting on his past presidential campaigns with 10TV, Jackson says his lasting political legacy may be opening up the door for minorities and women to seek the White House.

"The most significant thing is we broke the sound barrier on could a black or could a woman be accepted and the answer now is yes," said Jackson.  "I tried to advance the cause of inclusion for all Americans.  I remain concerned, passionately, about Appalachia.  I think in some sense it's a measuring stick of our character.  If you ignore Appalachia, we can ignore anyone at our peril."

Many believe that Jackson's speeches at both the '84 and '88 Democratic conventions are among the best in American history.

"I was inspired to shoot my best at that time," said Jackson.

He also remembered a moment during his 1988 speech which almost brought it to a complete halt.

A screen had come off the air conditioning unit under his podium and was blowing cold air at vacuum strength toward his head.

"My son detected it and crawled on his knees underneath and put duct tape over it to stop it," said Jackson.  "I would have had no voice after 15 minutes had that air conditioning kept blowing on my face."

Jackson is being honored in Columbus tonight, receiving a Community Empowerment Award by Black Enterprise.

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