(CNN) -- Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic race for president Friday.
Sen. Barack Obama will receive the endorsement of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Friday.
"Barack Obama will make a great and historic president," Richardson told a rally in Portland, Oregon, with Obama standing at his side.
Richardson referenced Obama's recent speech on race in America, saying he "understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans."
"He appealed to the best in us ... as a Hispanic American I was particularly touched by his words," Richardson added.
In a letter e-mailed by the Obama campaign, Richardson praised rival candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton as "a distinguished leader with vast experience" but said Obama of Illinois would be "a historic and a great president."
In a statement Clinton shrugged off Richardson's endorsement, saying "both of us have many great endorsers, and the voters, not endorsers, will decide this election.
"There are still millions of voters in upcoming contests who want to have their voices heard," she said.
Richardson is the nation's only Hispanic governor. Hispanics have tended to support Clinton over Obama in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But Richardson's endorsement will have an impact beyond Latino voters, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley said.
"This is an endorsement that may help with the Latino voting bloc around the edges, but if that were Richardson's target he would have done this before the New Mexico and Texas contests, both of which Obama narrowly lost, largely due to the Latino vote," Crowley said. "So this is a larger message to superdelegates, those elected officials and party officials who in the end may well decide who the nominee will be."
Richardson's statement said the country is blessed to have two great American leaders and great Democrats running for president.
"My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver," Richardson wrote in his e-mail. "It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against [presumptive GOP presidential candidate] John McCain in the fall."
Richardson, who served as United Nations ambassador and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination on January 10.
He drew 5 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and 2 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.