N.Ireland peacemaker Mitchell endorses Obama


 Retired US senator George Mitchell, who steered the tough negotiations that led to lasting peace in Northern Ireland, threw his support Thursday behind fellow Democrat Barack Obama in the US presidential race.

Speaking to local newspaper editors in his home state of Maine, Mitchell said he was "quite good friends" with Republican contender John McCain, having sat in the US Senate with him for 10 years.

"I think he's a good guy; I just think that Barack Obama is the right guy to be president," he told the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal editorial board, in an interview carried on their website.

Mitchell said am Obama presidency would represent a sea change after the eight-year administration of President George W. Bush which, he argued, had landed the United States in a serious financial crisis and lowered the nation's esteem in the eyes of the world.

Of McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Mitchell -- who brokered the Good Friday peace accord in 1998 that ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland that cost around 3,000 lives -- said she was unknown to him.

Her husband Todd Palin, a endurance snowmobile racer, is to campaign for McCain and his wife this weekend in Maine where the Republican ticket has the support of the state's 30,000-member snowmobile association.

The George Mitchell Scholarship

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