Speaking in Warren, Mich., on the eve of that state's primary, Gephardt couched his endorsement in terms of Democratic solidarity.
"My campaign ... was always about bringing the issues of jobs, economic security, health care, and core Democratic values to the White House," he said. "I'm here today with John Kerry because he's deeply committed to these issues."
The Missouri congressman, who dropped out of the race after a pale showing in the Iowa primaries, referred back 60 years to a former president's goals that he said were part of Kerry's promise.
"I know he'll take on the special interests and fulfill Harry Truman's dream of guaranteed health care for all Americans," Gephardt said.
"Each of the Democratic candidates would be far preferable to the current occupant of the White House, but John Kerry is best qualified to be the nominee of our party because of his courage under fire, because of his experience, because of his ideals, and because he can defeat George Bush," he concluded.