Former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges (search) endorsed retired Gen. Wesley Clark (search) for president Friday.

Hodges said the Democratic presidential hopeful has "a certain fire in his belly" and seems like the right man for the job. Hodges, who lost his re-election bid last year to Republican Mark Sanford, also will be an adviser to Clark's campaign.

A recent poll showed that Clark, who jumped into the crowded Democratic race in September, had surpassed North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) among likely voters in the South Carolina primary slated for Feb. 3.

Several key state Democrats have yet to endorse any of the nine candidates for the party's nomination, making Hodges' support a coup for the Clark campaign.

"This is an important endorsement. We are so proud to have it," Clark campaign spokeswoman Meighan Stone said. "It speaks to building the momentum here."

Clark has made several stops in South Carolina since entering the race in September, part of his strategy to skip the Iowa caucuses.

"Other people in the race already had dozens of people hired," Clark said at South Carolina State University on Thursday. "It made sense for me to work the primaries - New Hampshire, South Carolina."