(CNN) – North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley formally endorsed Hillary Clinton's White House bid Tuesday, saying the New York senator "gets it."
"It's time for somebody to be in the White House who understands the challenges we face in this country," Easley said at a rally in Raleigh with Clinton at his side. "They are significant. I never ever thought the United States of America could get in as much trouble as we have over the last 7 or 8 years."
Easley, a popular two term governor who is unable to run for re-election because of term limits, also praised Clinton for her persistence.
"I've been accused of being persistent, and down right aggravating…but this lady right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy," Easley said.
The endorsement gives the New York senator a symbolic boost in the state she is trailing Barack Obama by double digits. Easley is particularly popular with white, working class voters - a constituency that has favored Clinton in other primary states. He is the second superdelegate from North Carolina to back Clinton. Six North Carolina superdelegates have endorsed Obama.
Easley is a former backer of John Edwards' White House bid.
A recent ARG poll shows Obama leading Clinton by 10 points in the state.