In late 2006, I made the choice to support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, long before Sen. Barack Obama or even Hillary herself had declared their candidacies. My decision to support her was not one that was self-serving. My support was, and still is, based on her consistent support of issues that are important to my constituency and her ability to take a stand on tough issues.
I have known her since 1992, when she came to Cleveland after the Democratic convention. Since then, we have forged both a strong working relationship and friendship. As colleagues, we have worked together extensively in Congress on various pieces of legislation.
When I made the decision to contest the counting of the electoral votes from Ohio following the 2004 election, a move that was highly criticized by the Republican Party and even by some in the Democratic Party, Hillary stood with me and joined me in introducing groundbreaking election reform legislation with the Count Every Vote Act during the past two sessions of Congress. She has come to my district and held forums on this very issue. In fact, it was at a voting rights forum we hosted together in Cleveland that I announced my support for her, and I remain just as committed today as I was on that day over a year ago.
Since that time, we have seen this campaign create a groundswell unlike anything we have ever seen in a presidential election. What some billed as a blowout has now become an extremely tight race for the Democratic nomination. I have watched Senator Obama defy the odds, running a stellar campaign. His success fills me with pride, and I celebrate his candidacy. Yet, I choose to stick with the candidate that I feel is best suited for the job of president, Hillary Clinton.
Many people do not understand what it means to truly support a candidate. It is more than a bumper sticker, or a yard sign, or even attending a campaign event. By supporting a candidate, you are making a commitment to that candidate. I made that commitment to Hillary to support her through thick and thin, not to be a fair-weather friend only to leave her when the going gets tough.
I have spent over 26 years in public office working for the people of Ohio and working within the Democratic Party. I have gone door-to-door handing out pamphlets for candidates, stayed up late making phone calls and raising money for candidates - including Barack Obama's Senate campaign through the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. After 26 years in public office, I would hope that my constituents would respect my judgment and my choice to support Hillary Rodham Clinton, just as I respect their decision to support the candidate of their choice.
In politics all you have is your word. And I have never been one to fold when the cards are not being played in my favor. True integrity is measured when the times get tough. There is no doubt that Hillary's campaign is facing tough times, but I made a commitment to her, and I will support her all the way.
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones is a democratic representative from Ohio.