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KWAME HOLMAN: Front-running Sen. John Kerry began his day by picking up a key endorsement in South Carolina, where voters go to the polls Tuesday. Veteran Congressman Jim Clyburn said Kerry has the qualifications to beat president bush. Clyburn is the only black member of Congress from South Carolina.
REP. JIM CLYBURN: I’m pleased to be here today to say to the people of South Carolina, to the people in the other six states that are having primaries and caucuses on Feb. 3, to the people of this nation, that John Kerry has the right stuff to not only take us forward, economically and socially, but he has the right stuff to help us secure our nation, to help us make our nation a safer place, and to help us bring our people back together so that we will have real meaning when we say “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Ladies and gentleman, my choice to be next president of the United States, John Kerry.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I am deeply honored that Jim Clyburn has decided to join me in this fight to have a government that is on the side of working people in America.
KWAME HOLMAN: Kerry went on to discuss South Carolina’s economy, which has been battered by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: We’ve lost 3 million jobs across the country, and today there is great pain here in the Palmetto State. Under this president, you’ve lost 70,000 jobs in South Carolina, 58,000 of them in manufacturing alone. Fifty textile mills shut their doors last year, and one out of every four textile jobs in America has been lost. Manufacturing has fallen each and every single month of the Bush administration. And month after month the job losses roll on, 36 straight months of manufacturing job losses, breaking the hopes of those who don’t have work, and this administration has not been standing up and fighting for the American worker. I will.
KWAME HOLMAN: Retired Gen. Wesley Clark campaigned in Oklahoma today, another state where Democratic delegates will be selected next week. Clark flipped pancakes and greeted supporters at a VFW Hall in Oklahoma City. He spoke to a reporters about several issues, starting with his plan for tax reform.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: If you’re a family in this country with kids, you’re making $100,000 or less, you’re going to get an income tax cut of $1,500 a year. And if you’re making $50,000 or less with kids, you’ll never pay federal income tax again. We’re going to help working families in this country, and that’s why I’m running.
KWAME HOLMAN: Clark also talked about the bush administration’s use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Let’s face it, we were dealing with a government in Washington, a president who wanted to go to war with Iraq, and he wanted the information to look a certain way, and he used that information. He hyped it. He stretched it. He misled us.
KWAME HOLMAN: Clark then offered his plan for Iraq’s future.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Internationalize this issue so we have all of the countries who want to help organized into an assistance agency that can provide economic and political assistance. We put our forces there through NATO so our NATO allies have more of an incentive to engage and help us, and that way we’ll be able to get ourselves off the blame line; we’ll be able to reduce the American troop strength.
KWAME HOLMAN: Later Clark went on to South Carolina, where Sen. John Edwards also spent much of his day. In Greenville, Edwards spoke to an audience at a Methodist church.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: We’re past the preliminary stages. In a few days you’ll choose a president, vote for a candidate you believe your grandchildren will be proud of.
KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Joe Lieberman chose Tulsa, Oklahoma, as one of his campaign stops today, greeting potential voters at a diner during their morning coffee.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I’m here in Oklahoma with a great sense of optimism about the primary next week. Oklahomans are going to have a real say, and I think they’re going to make up their own minds. I just got endorsed this morning by the largest paper in Arizona, the Arizona Republic, so we feel real excited about that.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean set out from his Burlington headquarters to campaign in Michigan, which holds its contest a week from Saturday. Dean replaced his campaign manager yesterday with former Al Gore aide Roy Neel, considered an experienced Washington operative.
HOWARD DEAN: The purpose of bringing Roy was to bring a much tighter decision-making focus. The direction of the campaign doesn’t worry me one bit.
KWAME HOLMAN: He said his campaign will survive. He says he chose to focus on Michigan because it provides the largest number of delegates of any of the early primaries.
HOWARD DEAN: We’re going to have to win it eventually, but the question was do we have to win on Feb. 3? Of course we want to, but we don’t have to. What we’ve got to do is amass as many delegates as we can. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
KWAME HOLMAN: But arriving in Michigan, Dean told supporters he needs their help now.
HOWARD DEAN: And there will be tough times. And we’re in tough times right now. This is it. But we’re not the front-runner anymore, and what we need if you really want to take back this country is your help.
KWAME HOLMAN: Dean will join his six Democratic rivals for a debate in Columbia South Carolina tonight.