By Taylor W. Anderson

The Bulletin

Add two former Democratic governors to the list of prominent political figures in Oregon backing former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her bid for the presidency.

Former Govs. Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski announced Wednesday they’ve picked Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who stumped in Salem on Tuesday.

Roberts, governor from 1991 to 1995, said she’s backing Clinton because she’s known her for years and has decided the former first lady and New York senator has the political experience to enact change.

“For me, the bottom line is I want my commander-in-chief to know a great deal about international affairs,” Roberts said in an interview with The Bulletin. “There is no other candidate in either party or any party who has that expertise except for Hillary Clinton.”

As for Sanders, Roberts said it’s obvious progressives and liberals within the Democratic Party like the message he’s been giving on the campaign trail. “It’s a good message, an important message, one I agree with,” Roberts said. “But a message is not enough to govern a country.”

While Clinton is willing to take small steps to “lay the foundation for doing something bigger in the future,” Roberts said, “unfortunately I think Senator Sanders does not agree with a step-at-a-time philosophy (and) I don’t think it’s possible to do that.

“It’s just the reality. People say they want change, but when you try to promote change, you end up taking it in steps so often because people can’t digest too much change all at the same time,” she said.

Kulongoski, who served as Oregon governor from 2003 to 2011, will also back Clinton in the race, Elisa Donozo, a member of Clinton’s Oregon campaign, said. Kulongoski couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Sanders defeated Clinton in the West Virginia primary Tuesday night, by a percentage of 51-36, a state Clinton carried more than 2-to-1 over Barack Obama in 2008. But he was hit with a bad poll just before his event at the Salem Armory: 48 percent of likely Democratic primary voters picked Clinton, while 33 percent picked Sanders, according to the poll DHM Research conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Sanders conceded he was far behind Clinton in the overall race, but he highlighted a poll of his own during his speech Tuesday: An NBC News poll showed Sanders beating presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump by a wider margin than Clinton.

“Just in the last day, two national polls have us beating Trump by bigger margins than Secretary Clinton,” Sanders told the crowd of about 4,000.

“Four statewide polls … in every one of those polls, we beat Trump, will do better against Trump, than does Secretary Clinton.”

“Our campaign is generating the energy and the enthusiasm that we need to have a large voter turnout in November,” he said.

While he’s generating large crowds at rallies across the country, Sanders hasn’t been able to win over the state party leaders known as superdelegates, who are free to vote at the nominating convention for their favorite candidate.

Oregon has 13 superdelegates. Of those backing a candidate in the race before Oregon’s Tuesday primary, only U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley has said he will support Sanders. Gov. Kate Brown, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and others have sided with Clinton.

— Reporter: 406-589-4347,