This is a wonderful year for Democrats. Our party is blessed with the most impressive array of primary candidates in modern history. All would make superb presidents.
By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country.
While talk of unity and compromise are inspiring to a nation wary of divisiveness, America stands at a historic crossroads where real issues divide our political landscapes. Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need health care for all and a clean, safe environment.
The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues.
We have worked with Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen's case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We've seen her formidable work ethic, her courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We've also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America's principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation's most determined and most democratic warrior.
Her transformational leadership was on display when she ran for the Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She faced rabid, heavily funded attacks from the far right and the challenge of prevailing in traditionally Republican upstate New York.
Traveling with her, we watched admiringly as she persuasively articulated an inspiring and unifying vision rooted in American values and history. Then, through patience, hard work, leadership and political acumen, she transformed many of those rock-solid conservative counties into solid Democratic strongholds.
She understands, as our current administration does not, the uses of power. The world, she says, is hungry for U.S. leadership but will not accept our bullying. She knows the difference and will re-establish America's lost prestige and moral authority.
We need a leader who is battle-tested, resilient and sure-footed on the shifting landscapes of domestic and foreign policy. Clinton will move our country forward while promoting its noblest ideals.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy is a human rights activist. This is an edited version of a column that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.