Posted: January 21, 2008 4:32 PM
Clinton, Obama Court Black Voters in S.C. on MLK Day
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has turned her attention to South Carolina ahead of this Saturday’s Democratic primary. Clinton heads into the race fresh off two back-to-back victories in New Hampshire and most recently in Nevada. Her chief rival however, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., stands to be a greater obstacle in South Carolina, a state where over 50 percent of the voters are black. Although Obama finished second in Nevada, he did manage to secure 80 percent of the state’s black vote, MSNBC reported.
The race issue emerged before the Nevada primaries when Clinton remarked on how the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. came about after President Lyndon Johnson pushed through the civil rights act of 1964. Tensions between Clinton and Obama were ostensibly put to rest at a debate in Las Vegas, attended by fellow Democratic candidate and former N.C. Senator John Edwards.
But as America celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Monday, the issue remained a strong undercurrent in both Clinton and Obama’s campaigns. On Sunday, the two candidates attended churches in predominantly black neighborhoods. Obama spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and Clinton attended Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.
Senator Clinton was alongside Rev. Calvin O. Butts, an influential black New York leader, the New York Times reported. Dr. Butts, who recently endorsed Clinton, explained his support: “[This] is not a race based decision for me.” His words outside the church were met with cheers by a crowd of Clinton fans.
Although both candidates have avoided discussing the issue of race in their campaign strategies, the subject is bound to emerge again in Monday night’s CNN debate in the Palmetto State sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.
The candidates will have a chance to spar with one another, but lately it’s been Obama’s battle with Clinton’s husband that has been garnering media attention.
Monday, Bill Clinton called in question Obama’s devotion to the Democratic party, citing Obama’s praise of the Reagan administration and courtship of Republican voters in Nevada.
“[Hillary] won a victory in spite of a very well-organized, and I might say a very well-executed strategy by the Obama campaign, which included doing well in the north of Nevada, where his demographic of upscale voters lived, and by making an explicit effort to get Republicans to come and vote for him in the Democratic caucus,” Clinton said, according to ABC News.
Clinton’s remarks were in response to an interview with Obama on ABC’s Good Morning America.
“You know the former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling,” Obama said in the interview. “I understand him wanting to promote his wife’s candidacy. She’s got a record that she can run on. But I think it’s important that we try to maintain some — you know, level of honesty and candor during the course of the campaign. If we don’t, then we feed the cynicism that has led so many Americans to be turned off to politics.”