Former Virginia governor Charles S. Robb, one of the original supporters of next week's "Super Tuesday" primaries, endorsed Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr. yesterday for the Democratic nomination for president.

Robb was a founder and former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, which proposed that the South could become a force in the presidential selection process by holding a same-day primary in 14 states. He said yesterday, "Two facts about Senator Gore stand out: His message of strength and his political independence."

Robb said "it doesn't intimidate me" that most polls show Gore finishing fourth in the March 8 primary, despite a campaign strategy that is based on a strong showing in Gore's home region. Four years ago, Robb endorsed the ill-fated campaign of Ohio Sen. John Glenn, a commitment that, he said, "I now wear like a badge of honor."

Gore could get another boost today if he is endorsed by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Robb's original choice for the nomination.

Without confirming that Nunn will tap Gore, Robb said he "didn't want our decisions coordinated . . . to look like a DLC endorsement." Nunn recently succeeded Robb as head of the DLC.

"I hope we don't judge Super Tuesday on who wins, but on the turnout," said Robb. He said the benchmark should be surpassing the 14 percent turnout in the South four years ago.

Gore, speaking in New York last night, called the endorsement "a tremendous boost" to his campaign.

Robb, who is his party's candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican incumbent Paul S. Trible Jr., apparently failed to persuade his successor in Richmond, fellow Democrat Gerald L. Baliles, to endorse Gore.

Gov. Baliles announced yesterday that he would not make an endorsement before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in mid-July, where Baliles said he hopes to play a broker's role in picking the ticket.

Baliles predicted there would be "no clear front-runner" before the convention, and that the nominee would be one of those now in the race, rather than someone who "parachutes in" as a compromise candidate.

Robb said yesterday that while he and Gore "are not in complete agreement on all issues, his presidential agenda most closely reflects my own priorities in the defense and foreign policy arena."

Robb said he is pleased that he current campaign has dispelled a perception that "Democrats lack resolve on matters of national strength . . . {which} has been an important reason for our party's poor showing in recent presidential elections."

Although Robb did not announce his decision until yesterday, he obviously had made up his mind before last weekend's meeting of the DLC in Williamsburg.

During an interview for a public television show, taped last Friday, Robb told moderator Morton Kondracke that Gore is "more closely aligned with what I think is right for our party and for the country."

Robb told Kondracke that while Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt is "the only candidate in the field who really has a message, it's not quite the message I'd like."

Gephardt, campaigning yesterday in Kansas City, Mo., discounted Robb's decision.

"I don't really expect that it's going to have a great effect on this election," he said. "I think people make up their own minds about who they're going to support."

Staff writer Gwen Ifill contributed to this report.