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Bill Clinton Backs Rangel, Stringer Backs Espaillat in Democratic Congressional Primary

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Another one of Rep. Charles Rangel's former supporters is switching sides this year in a tough Democratic primary race, but publicly, Rangel, doesn't seem that concerned, as he's playing up the endorsement of one of the most popular Democrats in the country. Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.

Rep. Charles Rangel was feeling a little giddy as he campaigned at a pizza place in East Harlem Wednesday afternoon.

"Where's the knife and fork?" he joked.

The embattled congressman had good reason to be happy. Hours earlier, his campaign officially announced that former President Bill Clinton had endorsed his bid for a 23rd term in Congress.

"I did not bargain with the former president," Rangel said. "He is saying what so many other people are saying, and it's not being reported, that I support Charlie Rangel as the best qualified candidate.

Downtown, at City Hall, Rangel's chief challenger, state Senator Adriano Espaillat, was trying not to be outdone. He was basking in the glow of his newest supporter, City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

"When you get the endorsement of a former president, it matters. And I'm a former borough president," Stringer joked.

The Stringer endorsement continues a pattern in this race. Back in 2012, Stringer endorsed Rangel, but now, like some other prominent local leaders, he's switching sides.

Like those other leaders, he said he has nothing against Rangel. It's just that he thought the longtime lawmaker was going to retire this year.

"I had a real sense, a couple of years ago, I can't tell you pointedly what our conversation was, but my sense was that perhaps this would be his last term," Stringer said. "But today more than ever, we need this congress member for the challenges that we're going to face going forward."

Rangel insists he never told anyone he was going to end his longtime political career this year. And as he campaigns for one last term in office, you get the sense that Rangel can't even begin to imagine life out of the spotlight. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP