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Obama Wins in South Carolina With Swell of Black Support

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/01/democrats_face_off_in_south_ca.html Obama Wins in South Carolina With Swell of Black Support By Chris
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2008

      Obama Wins in South Carolina With Swell of Black

      By Chris Cillizza
      washingtonpost.com staff writer

      Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) scored an overwhelming
      victory today over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.)
      in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary
      with massive support from black voters.

      Clinton finished second and former senator John
      Edwards of North Carolina finished third in a contest
      that sets up a full-scale clash between Clinton and
      Obama on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. The vote climaxed
      several weeks of sometimes bitter personal clashes
      between Obama and Clinton and her husband, former
      President Bill Clinton, that seemingly contributed to
      the electorate polarizing along racial lines.

      "Tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in
      the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a
      different story by the good people of South Carolina,"
      Obama said, according to prepared remarks. "After four
      great contests in every corner of this country, we
      have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most
      diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long,
      long time."

      Obama, the first black candidate regarded as a
      legitimate contender for the Democratic presidential
      nomination, won African American voters by a
      four-to-one margin - numbers that nearly replicated
      his performance among blacks in Iowa and Nevada.
      Unlike in those two states, however, where blacks made
      up 4 percent and 15 percent of those voting, African
      American voters were more than 50 percent of the
      electorate in South Carolina tonight.

      Among white voters, the candidates ran far closer,
      with Clinton and Edwards, a native of South Carolina,
      running neck and neck while Obama lagged slightly
      behind. But among black voters, Clinton's showing was
      modest and Edwards's was negligible.

      Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest ranking African
      American in Congress, insisted that Obama's
      performance transcended a strong black vote, noting
      that he did relatively well among white voters.

      "In the last 48 hours, voters decided to reject the
      racial animus that seemed to be developing," said
      Clyburn in an interview with MSNBC moments after the
      race was called at 7 pm. Eastern time.

      Obama's win is his second in the presidential campaign
      - and the first since Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses. After
      Obama's win in Iowa, Clinton bounced back to win New
      Hampshire and Nevada. Unlike those votes, which were
      quite close, Obama carried South Carolina

      With each of the front-runners now claiming two wins
      each, the focus of the race will shift to the 24
      states scheduled to vote on Feb. 5 - a day that the
      two campaigns have had circled on their calendars for
      months as the stakes grew higher.

      Clinton, wary of polls showing Obama far out in front,
      in recent days sought to cast the South Carolina
      primary as a foregone conclusion. Although she and her
      daughter Chelsea spent the day greeting voters today,
      she flew off to Tennessee this evening, a state set to
      vote on Feb. 5.

      Clinton spent two days this week outside of South
      Carolina, making stops in California, and New Jersey
      among other states, in an effort to signal her
      campaign's focus on the upcoming Super Tuesday
      primaries and caucuses.

      "Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted
      today and welcomed me into their homes over the last
      year," Clinton said in a statement released at 8 p.m.
      Eastern time after she called Obama to offer her
      congratulations. "We now turn our attention to the
      millions of Americans who will make their voices heard
      in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as
      American Samoa who will vote on February 5th."

      Obama, too, quickly switched his focus to states
      voting on the first Tuesday in February, and plans to
      fly to George tonight after his victory speech in
      order to campaign in the Peach State and Alabama
      There were 45 Democratic national delegates at stake
      in the South Carolina primary, a tiny fraction of the
      1,600 national convention delegates that will be
      contested by the candidates on Feb. 5. South Carolina
      Republicans held their primary a week ago.

      For Edwards, a native of South Carolina and the winner
      of the state's 2004 Democratic presidential primary,
      the results were a disappointment. While Edwards did
      far better than his meager four percent in Nevada, he
      still ran well behind Obama and even Clinton --
      raising questions about his viability as the race
      turns to Feb. 5.
      On the campaign trail, Edwards has long pledged he
      would remain in the contest until the Democratic
      convention, and his campaign gave no indication of
      rethinking that oath in the wake of tonight's results.

      Today's Democratic vote followed a week of angry
      bickering between Obama and the Clintons in a
      back-and-forth that took on troubling racial

      Obama and his supporters accused the Clinton campaign
      of distorting his record on the war and other issues,
      belittling his experience in government, and unfairly
      trying to tie him to the conservative policies of the
      Reagan administration. The Clinton camp contends that
      Obama has exaggerated his opposition to the war in
      Iraq and lacks the experience Clinton has to turn
      rhetoric into political and legislative reality.

      The Obama and Clinton camps have clashed repeatedly
      since last Saturday's Nevada caucuses, including in a
      fiery debate on Monday night in Myrtle Beach, S.C. In
      that gathering, Obama made a reference to Clinton's
      work as a "corporate lawyer" and service on the board
      of Wal-Mart, while she sought to highlight his ties to
      indicted real estate developer Tony Rezko.

      In the days after the debate, the Clinton campaign
      launched a radio ad that said Obama believed
      Republicans had been the party of ideas over the last
      few decades; Obama's campaign responded with a radio
      ad of its own that claimed that Clinton would "say
      anything" to win.

      In recent days those tensions subsided slightly with
      both campaigns pulling negative radio ads about one
      another late in the week and the two candidates
      calling for comity.

      January 26, 2008; 8:55 PM ET
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