Category Archives: S.C. Democratic Primary

Let’s go ahead and have the poll that counts

Zogby said this morning that Obama’s lead over Clinton is shrinking:

UTICA, NY – Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s lead over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowed yet a little more in South Carolina with just two days to go before the primary, the latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby tracking poll shows.
    Obama lost a point from the day before and sits at 38% support in the telephone poll, which was conducted Jan. 22-24 and included 811 likely Democratic voters. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.
    Clinton won 25% support, up one point from the day before but now just four points ahead of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who continued to increase support and now sits at 21%….

These guys say it’s more:

South Carolina Poll

Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 24
John Edwards 19

Which one’s right? I’m guessing the result will lie somewhere between the two, as long as nobody cries or throws a tantrum or kicks a dog or anything on TV tonight. In any event, we’ll find out by this time tomorrow.

See you at the Obama rally, if I’m up that late

Just got a call from Inez Tenenbaum, because I had called her, and then I had to think why, and then I realized it was because some guys (chaps? blokes?) from the BBC were leaving my office after interviewing me, and they asked where the Obama people would be gathering tomorrow night, and I said I’d call somebody who would know. But she hadn’t answered.

That’s because she was at an Obama rally up at Clemson, which was over when she called back at 5:23, so I asked how it had gone. Great, she said — really cold, but a good turnout and plenty of charged-up people. "Oh, there goes a lady with an Obama T-shirt and two little babies!" I’m guessing you had to be there.

Anyway, she and Obama and everybody else were going to Florence next, to have another "Stand for Change" rally, before leaving there and coming to Columbia for the final rally of the night, around 10:45. I told her I’d like to catch it, but the last couple of weeks had taken their toll on my 54-year-old self, and I just don’t think I can do a rally that late.

Oh, but you have to! she insisted. She says it’s fantastic, that in all her years of politics she’s never seen anything like it. As she put it, you just say you’re having a rally, and 4,000 people show up. Then you say you’re having another just like it somewhere across the state, and it happens all over again.

Obviously, the Obama camp is pretty pumped up on Primary Eve. I’ll see if I can make it. If you do the same, maybe I’ll see you. This one will be at the Koger Center. I asked Inez if she thought it would start on time, and she expressed confidence that it would — got to make the 11 o’clock TV news, you know.

Oh, yeah, I found out where they’re gathering Saturday night — at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the Vista.

Will the Obama strategy work, now and in the future?

A couple of days back, our own Valerie Bauerlein and her associates with the WSJ had a piece that described rather well what was different about Barack Obama’s campaign in South Carolina. And no, I don’t mean that he’s been more inspiring or any of that stuff you’re tired of hearing me say.

I refer to his tactics — or perhaps, given the scale of what’s at stake, I should say his strategy. An excerpt:

    In early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, campaigns use rallies and personal appearances to get votes. Now, the nominating races have moved to bigger states, including much of the South. Candidates here rely on endorsements from powerful politicians and preachers. It is a tradition that has evolved since the 1960s to garner support among poor blacks who look to their preachers for both spiritual and political guidance. And it is the way Mrs. Clinton, like countless Democratic politicians before her, is running her campaign in South Carolina.
    Mr. Obama, in contrast, is trying something many observers say has never been done here: He is circumventing entrenched local leadership and building a political machine from scratch. His staff consists largely of community organizers — many from out of state or with no political experience — who are assembling an army of volunteers. It is a strategy often used by labor organizations and in neighborhood and town politics…
    "If he pulls this off — and I think he will — Barack Obama’s organization will be studied and replicated in this state for many years to come," says Inez Tenenbaum, a former South Carolina superintendent of education who has run four statewide races in the past decade. She is one of the few prominent state Democrats backing Mr. Obama.

When I originally read that story (I actually referred to it back here), the strategy part didn’t strike me, possibly because it seemed self-evident. But after a colleague called my attention to it again, I realized it was probably worth sharing.

There’s little question Sen. Clinton has taken the traditional approach, lining up (and listening to advice from) such longtime party stalwarts as, well, as Don Fowler, and getting the Darrell Jacksons of the world on the payroll.

Meanwhile, Obama has built this huge, very young, staff — as I’ve noted, the children of people I’ve known in Democratic circles for decades, rather than the parents — that has gone straight to the people, rather than the usual gate-keepers.

Could this be the model for a new kind of politics in South Carolina? Maybe — if Obama gets the nomination. If he doesn’t, it will likely be discarded as the innovation that didn’t work — even though, in South Carolina, it has worked thus far.

Actually, she’s back

Earlier this week, everyone picked up on the fact that Hillary Clinton was bailing out of South Carolina, leaving it to Bill to represent her here, and generally building herself a workable cover story for how she didn’t really try here, so that she could shrug off losing, yadda-yadda.

Everyone bought into that narrative to such an extent that I still hear it or see it mentioned. But that ignores a fact: She’s back. At least, according to her official schedule she’s back. I noted that she was coming back yesterday for a speech at Furman. After that, I think she had a second event in the state — I know I saw it on a schedule somewhere, but I’m having trouble laying my hands on it right now (was it in Anderson?). Anyway, here’s her schedule today:

Friday, January 24
Columbia à Rock Hill

9:00 a.m. EST
Hillary Hosts “Solution for America: Expanding Access to College” Town Hall in Columbia
Benedict College
1600 Harden St.
Columbia, SC 29204
DOORS OPEN 8:30 a.m.
Additional Details TBA

1:30 p.m. EST
Hillary Attends “Solutions for America” Rally in Anderson
The Freedom Center
215 E. Main St.
Rock Hill, SC 29730
DOORS OPEN 1:00 p.m.   
Additional Details TBA

9:30 p.m. EST
Hillary Attends Charleston Rally with President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
North Charleston Convention Center
Ballroom A
5050 International Blvd
Charleston, SC
DOORS OPEN 9:00 p.m.
Additional Details TBA

So it kind of looks like she’s back, which means one of two things: Either she thinks she’s in striking distance of winning — see Zogby’s narrowing Obama lead — or she’s setting up the second potential spin narrative for a loss.

After what happened in New Hampshire, we should never discount the possibility of a Clinton win here, not until all the votes are counted tomorrow night. As for that second scenario, the "alternative narrative:"

As I suggested in my column today, that would go like this: "Well, I did my best in South Carolina, but it’s just too heavily black, and so it was just going to go for Obama anyway." This sets up the ghetto-ization of Obama as the "black-only" candidate, the new Jesse Jackson. And folks, I’ve met Jesse Jackson a number of times, and Barack Obama is not Jesse Jackson.

Somewhere, I think I hear the sound of Sister Souljah singing…

Living down our history

MY GRANDMOTHER used to tell a story about when she was a very little girl living in the Washington area.
    Her family was from South Carolina. Her father was an attorney working for the federal government. One of their neighbors was a U.S. senator from South Carolina. When her parents learned that she had visited the senator in his garden, sitting on his lap and begging for a peek under his eye patch, they were shocked and appalled.
    The senator was “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, the state’s former governor, and a vehement advocate of lynching who had participated in the murders of black South Carolinians as a “Red Shirt” vigilante.
    Grandma’s people were of a very different political persuasion, as were of the founders of this newspaper, which was established for the express purpose of fighting the Tillman machine. That’s a second personal connection for me, and one of which I’m proud: We still fight the things that race-baiter stood for.
    Ben Tillman launched his rise to power with a fiery speech in Bennettsville, the town where I was born. But we’ve come a long way since then. Two very different politicians have spoken in Bennettsville in recent days.
    In November, Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke there, outlining her plan “to cut the dropout rate among minority students in half and help a new generation of Americans pursue their dreams.”
    John Edwards was there Wednesday. Tillman was a populist; John Edwards is a populist. But there the resemblance ends. Former Sen. Edwards’ advocacy for the poor helped endear him to black voters in South Carolina in 2004, propelling him to victory in that year’s primary here. His appearance in B’ville was in connection with his attempt to repeat that achievement.
    So my hometown and my home state have come a long way in the past century or so, at least with regard to the intersection of race and politics.
    Not far enough, of course. I don’t just say that because a statue honoring Tillman still stands on the State House grounds, a few yards from where the Confederate flag still flies.
    On the day that this newspaper endorsed Barack Obama, our publisher’s assistant passed on a phone message from a reader who was livid because we are “supporting a black man for president of the United States.” He continued: “I am ashamed that we’ve got a newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, one of the best cities in America, and yet we’ve got a black operation supporting black candidates…. I am disappointed and upset that we’ve got a black newspaper right here in the city of Columbia.”
    How many white South Carolinians still think that way? Too many, if there’s only one of them. But such people stand out and are worth mentioning because we have come so far, and increasingly, people who think the way that caller does are the exception, not the rule.
    And truth be told, South Carolina is not the only part of these United States where you can still find folks whose minds are all twisted up over race.
    As I noted, Mr. Edwards did very well among black voters in 2004, but not this time. Several months ago, Sen. Clinton seemed to be the heir to that support. The wife of the “first black president” had lined up a lot of African-American community leaders, which was a big part of why she commanded an overwhelming lead in S.C. polls.
    But in the last few weeks, something happened. Sen. Obama won in Iowa, an overwhelmingly white state, and black South Carolinians began to believe he had a chance, and that a vote for Obama would not be “wasted.” This week, according to pollster John Zogby, he’s had the backing of between 56 and 65 percent of black voters, while Sen. Clinton can only claim at most 18 percent of that demographic.
    And as the days wear down to what is an almost-certain Obama victory in South Carolina, Sen. Clinton has gone on to spend most of her time campaigning elsewhere, leaving her husband behind to bloody Obama as much as he can.
    So it is that I would expect the Clinton campaign to say, after Saturday, that she didn’t really try to win here. But there’s another narrative that could emerge: Sure, he won South Carolina, but so did Jesse Jackson — just because of the huge black vote there. To win in November, Democrats need a candidate with wider appeal, right?
    Maybe that won’t happen. It would be outrageous if it did. But those with an outrageous way of looking at politics see it as a possibility. Dick Morris — the former Clinton ally (but now a relentless critic), the master of triangulation — wrote in The New York Post this week: “Obama’s South Carolina victory will be hailed as proof that he won the African-American vote. Such block voting will trigger the white backlash Sen. Clinton needs to win.”
    As a South Carolinian who’s proud of how far my state has come, I want to say right now, well ahead of time: As Joe Biden got himself in trouble for saying, and as Iowa voters confirmed, Barack Obama is no Jesse Jackson. Nor is he Bill Clinton, or John Edwards, or anybody else. He’s just Barack Obama, and Barack Obama is the best-qualified Democrat seeking the presidency of the United States.
    And no one should dismiss South Carolinians for being wise enough to see that.

This explains SO much: Fowler says he told Hillary not to seek endorsement

When I got this morning’s e-mail from Don Fowler about our Obama endorsement, I immediately answered it as follows:

I guess you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree yet again, Don.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, though. It’s helpful to me in understanding the way things stand.

If you don’t mind my asking, were you involved at all in discussions within the Clinton campaign about our repeated invitations to an editorial board meeting? And if you were, was this the advice you gave?

That may have seemed a question out of the blue, but it arose from an intuition I had last week when I was trying to imagine why Sen. Clinton didn’t schedule an interview, despite all our invitations. It didn’t make sense to me, and the answer I was getting — pleading the busy schedule — was weirdly inadequate. Barack Obama had a busy schedule. So did Dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley-Brown, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Howard Dean and John Kerry in 2004, but they all managed to find the time.

I felt like something else was going on, and Don’s message this morning seemed to support the hunch that he had something to do with it. So as long as I was writing to him, I asked him.

He called me on the phone a little later and left a message, saying in part:

    As concerns the matter of the, being involved in conversations about whether Hillary should… come and spend two hours with your folks, I categorically recommended that she not spend her time there, it would be totally wasted time. No chance in the world that you and your crowd would ever endorse a Clinton for anything. I learned that a long time ago. Be glad to talk with you.

Now, I have no idea that Hillary Clinton or her schedulers would make their decision based on this — I certainly wouldn’t. But at least it gives me an explanation from somebody.

I called him back, missed him, and he called me back, and we had one of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had since — well, since this morning, when I chatted with a reader who said he didn’t believe newspapers had a right to endorse candidates at all, so we shouldn’t do it.

But I’d never had such a frustrating conversation with someone as well educated and experienced as Don, his party’s former national chairman. He kept clinging to this notion that we would never endorse anyone with the name Clinton — which made no sense to me — what’s in a name; are we Montagues and Capulets here? I mean, if he knows that, he knows something I don’t know. He said he based his absolute conclusion on a visit he made to the editorial board on Bill Clinton’s behalf in 1996. Not remembering the specifics of that meeting, I didn’t get into it, but I pointed out that of the five current members of the board, I’m the only one who was on the board then. No matter. He suggested that the fix was in, that we would endorse the Republican no matter what, and that it must hold just as true today as then.

Well, you know, this paper has endorsed Republicans — for president — every election for as far back as I am aware, something which I attribute to the fact that the national Democratic Party (which he once chaired) keeps giving us nominees the board won’t go for. But we didn’t even get into that. I pointed out the fact that of all the endorsements we’ve done in all general elections — federal, state, local — since I joined the board in 1994 (and that includes those presidential ones), we have endorsed more Democrats than Republicans. I offered to take him into our smelly, musty archives and show him all those endorsements. He didn’t take me up on it.

He repeated his charge that we endorsed Sanford twice. I told him he was wrong, and asked him if he knew whom we endorsed in 2006 for governor. He said he didn’t know. I told him it was Democrat Tommy Moore.

He kept saying he didn’t have to read what we wrote; he knew all he needed to know about us. So it was no use telling him that while I had liked Barack Obama from early on and hoped we would see fit to endorse him, I believed that Sen. Clinton had a case to make that could persuade us otherwise, and I wanted her to have the chance to make it. As I wrote in the paper, Mike Fitts expressed his sincere disappointment that she didn’t do so. I think, after having had the interview with Obama, he would still have persuaded us. But I can’t know for sure.

But Don Fowler, he knows.

It was a remarkable conversation. I share it with you because it bears — or at least seems to bear — on a subject I’ve tried to keep y’all in the loop on.

It’s officially a trend: Rock Hill backs Obama, too

The Sage of Wichita, Jerry Ratts, once said, “That’s twice. Once more and it’s a trend, and we can send it to Lifestyles.” (You probably have to have worked long, thankless years at a newspaper to fully grok the wisdom of Ratts, but I assure you it’s there.)

By that definition, we officially have us a trend: The Rock Hill Herald has also endorsed Barack Obama, to wit:

    Barack Obama, at 46, could have waited four or even eight years to run for the presidency, but decided that this year’s campaign was his moment.
    We think he was right; his candidacy is ideally suited for this point in the nation’s history. Obama, more than any other candidate in either party, has based his campaign on the promise of positive change in Washington and an effort to heal the caustic partisan rift that divides not only the nation’s capital but also much of the nation.
    The promise of change is nothing unique in the rhetoric of the stump. But we think Obama brings both a unique biography and an impressive set of skills to this campaign.

So I guess this means Editorial can officially drop this subject, and let the Features folks take over…

She got one! MB goes for Hillary

Just to show that the MSM are not one big, fat conspiracy, the Myrtle Beach Sun News has endorsed Hillary Clinton, as this release from Zac proudly announces:

Myrtle Beach Sun News Endorses Hillary for President

COLUMBIA, SCThe Myrtle Beach Sun News, a major daily newspaper serving the Pee Dee and Grand Strand in South Carolina, today endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, calling her "sharp, savvy, highly skilled" and citing her experience and ability to solve problems.
     According to the endorsement editorial, the newspaper found that Hillary Clinton “certainly has the brains, toughness and skill-set required to chart her own course.”
     The full endorsement follows.

Of course, the Sun News is terribly misguided, but I’m happy for Zac, since he’s from my old stomping grounds in West Tennessee, and I think he’s a good guy.

Mama! Greenville’s copying us! Make ’em stop!

The Greenville News has also endorsed Barack Obama. Here’s an excerpt:

    Obama brings characteristics to this primary that lift up many
people and elevate their sense of hope. He is not a hardened ideologue.
While he does not minimize his Democratic Party roots, he talks openly
and encouragingly of wanting to get "Democrats, Republicans and
independents to work constructively on problems instead of (trying) to
score political points."

    He could help Washington move past its
stubborn and destructive partisan politics. As he said in an editorial
board meeting at this newspaper, "The politics we have seen and grown
accustomed to over the past 20 years have not been productive." That’s
so true…

So as you see, they’ve chosen to endorse our candidate, using our reasoning, and making like it’s their own. Well, I suppose I can live with all that. After all, they’re right.

But then they went and copied us on releasing the endorsement early online. They’ve stolen our shtick! EPE Beth Padgett freely admits that they’ve never done this before, whereas everybody knows that we do it all the time — which is to say, we’ve now done it twice.

Oh, and by the way, the paper over in Atlanta went for Obama, too. That’s two. Once more, and it will officially be a trend. In other words, it’s not just about us at The State being the moral equivalent of Lucifer. But I’m not denying the "philosopher kings" part, because that sounds pretty cool.

Obama ‘Truth Squad’ claims a victory

Citing an online Washington Post report that the Clinton campaign has, "under fire," pulled the ads that lamely claimed Barack Obama was a closet Reagan devotee, the Obama "Truth Squad" is claiming responsibility:

January 24, 2008

Clinton Campaign Forced to Pull Dishonest Radio Ad Attacking Obama
COLUMBIA – Former Clinton administration official and South Carolina Truth Squad member David Agnew of Charleston today issued a statement after learning that the Clinton campaign has pulled its now-infamous ad that had been playing on South Carolina radio stations distorting Obama’s view of the Republican Party and President Reagan.  Yesterday, fellow Truth Squad members Gov. Jim Hodges and State Rep. Todd Rutherford held a news conference to denounce the misleading ad — saying that it only served to distract attention from the issues most important to families in South Carolina.
     “This is a victory for the truth, and a victory for all South Carolinians who want to turn the page on the divisive politics of the past,” Agnew said.  “Obviously the deceptions go beyond this one radio ad.  It’s time for the distortions of Senator Obama’s record to stop.  And it’s time for Hillary Clinton to start running an honest campaign focused on the issues that really matter to the people of South Carolina.”

The release then called attention to the piece on the WashPost site, which you can read here. An excerpt:

Clinton Pulls Negative S.C. Ad
By Anne E. Kornblut
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Under fire for airing misleading attacks on Sen. Barack Obama, the Clinton campaign has pulled a radio ad that quoted the Illinois senator calling Republicans "the party of ideas" and suggesting he thought those ideas superior to Democratic ones. But the Obama campaign has already counter-punched, launching a new radio spot saying Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will "say anything" to get elected…

What the Obama campaign learned about The State

After he saw the message from Don Fowler, Kevin Griffis of the Barack Obama campaign send me an e-mail, which I reproduce here in full:

    We did very thorough research of The State‘s editorial board’s positions over the last few years, and in addition to endorsing Democrats Jim Clyburn, John Spratt, Robert Barber and Jim Rex in the last cycle, this is what we found that the board has advocated for, among other positions:

  • Improved government transparency
  • Energy independence
  • Alleviating inequalities in educational opportunities
  • Strenthening consumer safety measures
  • Reforming No Child Left Behind
  • Adequately funding public colleges

I assume their campaign supports the aforementioned candidates and policy positions despite the fact the paper has endorsed Republicans. It makes you wonder where they draw the line for the legitimacy of your advocacy.

I didn’t realize we were being studied up on to that extent, but I see now that we were. Ordinarily, you’d expect that Don would have just known all this stuff about us, seeing as how he’s a Columbian. But he is blinded by his partisan view of the world — for him, if you ever endorsed or agreed with a Republican, you apparently are beyond the pale.

Don Fowler likens us to Lucifer

Well, it took him a day and a half, but Columbian and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler managed to draft a response to our endorsement of Barack Obama (I received it at 10:46 a.m. today):

Don Fowler’s comments on editorial endorsements by The State
Having The State newspaper render judgments about Democrats is like Lucifer rendering judgments about angels. The crack set of philosopher kings at The State have twice endorsed George Bush and twice endorsed Mark Sanford.  No further comment required. 

Don Fowler

No, that’s not an excerpt. That’s the whole message, except for his phone number and e-mail address at the end.

Apparently, we didn’t endorse Don’s preferred candidate. For those of you who don’t know Don, you should. At least you should know that his wife, Carol, is the present state party chair. But in his day, Dr. Fowler has operated on a much grander stage.

Over the years, Don and I have disagreed strongly over one thing: He thinks the political parties are a wonderful, essential part of our political system (hence all the time he’s spent serving one of them). I see the Republican and Democratic parties as anathema, the ruination of the country, destructive forces that foster intellectual dishonesty and prevent the deliberative process from functioning as the nation’s Founders intended. Don is a Democrat, through and through. I am the founder and most ardent proponent of the UnParty.

Given that divide between us, it was pretty much inevitable — looking at it now in retrospect — that we would endorse Barack Obama, the one candidate seeking the Democratic nomination with the goal of leading the nation beyond the nauseating polarization that has characterized the Bush-Clinton years. And it was just as inevitable that Don would disagree most vehemently, and in the hyperpartisan terms that he chose.

Don doesn’t even see the truth, which is that this newspaper has endorsed slightly more Democrats than Republicans in the years I’ve been on this editorial board. We haven’t done that on purpose; party is not a consideration in our deliberations. I wasn’t aware of it until I took the time in 2004 to do a study of the past decade’s endorsements. It just worked out that way. (In fact, in 2006 we endorsed 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans — again, not intentionally. And while that skewed our running average toward Democrats, we sometimes go just as strongly for Republicans, depending on the candidates that year.)

But Don’s apparently not a guy who can understand, or forgive, anyone who has backed a Republican ever. And the partisan filter through which he perceives the world is what divides us.

Yeah, but what did Thomas Jefferson know?

My old friend Bud Ferillo, an Obama supporter (and coiner of "Corridor of Shame") who was quoted in this Bob Herbert column, has shared with me a note he sent to David Broder, whom he says he has "known pleasantly for years":

Dear David:

    Long time no hear. Hope you are well.
    I read your piece on South Carolina and agree that this is a must win state for Obama who I am supporting enthusiastically. I think the black vote is breaking heavily for him and should provide a double digit win, even though Bill Clinton will be here most of the week. Obama is stumping the state solidly. You’d think he was running for Governor of SC with four appearances a day set through Thursday. Hillary has left until Friday. I expect they’ll spin SC as a race based vote and continue that labeling to discount the results.
     Early voting here in Richland County (seniors over 65 can vote 30 days prior to a primary or election and absentee voting is easily done) is extremely heavy. I stood in a line for 75 minutes to cast my ballot today and was one of  very few whites to do so. Also standing in line for an hour was 85 year old Federal Judge Matthew Perry: we agreed that voting in SC is still an arduous task!
    My reason for writing, other than to say hello, is to address the charge that Obama does not have the experience to be president.
    I sat down today – with the knowledge that he has 8 years of elected office in the Illinois legislature and three years in the US Senate for 11 years in total years in elected office – and Wikipedia’ed (new verb) earlier presidents.
    My report is this and I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned this: Obama has more time in elected office than the following individuals before they were elected President: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln ( only 2 years in the US House), Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D.Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. (I quit my research with these but there are probably more US Presidents who meet the experience test than those I have listed.) And … to top it off … more time in elected office than Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
    Is this not worth some attention? What the hell am I missing?

    Hale to the Redskins!


I think Bud meant "hail to the Redskins" there. And I don’t so much mind him running down Thomas Jefferson like that, but I’m a John Adams man from way back. I think we have to consider the crucial job he did representing our nation in both Paris and London during the Revolution. Sort of counts for more than routine elective service, I’d say.

She’s back, at least for a moment

Apparently, speculation that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be in the state any more was overblown, as her campaign advises:

Hillary Clinton to Deliver Major Speech TOMORROW in South Carolina Addressing the Serious Economic Challenges Facing America

Thursday, January 24
Greenville, SC

11:00 a.m. EST
Clinton Delivers Major Speech Addressing the Serious Economic Challenges Facing America

Furman University
Younts Conference Center
3300 Pointsett Highway
Greenville, SC 29613
Additional Details TBA

Not that I’m trying to give advice, but every moment she does spend in the state between now and Saturday night reduces the viability of the "I didn’t really try in South Carolina" explanation for a big loss, should things come to that.

Omnipresent video is a brutal thing

Anyone who has been to as many banquets and sat through as many ceremonial speeches as I have over the years has seen a dignitary or two fail to maintain a proper level of consciousness at the head table.

But for most of my career, that made for no more than a moment’s amusement to some in the audience, nudging each other to take note of the valiant, but losing, battle of someone trying to keep his/her dignity.

Now, in the YouTube era, with a higher and higher percentage of the public having video cameras in their very phones, there is no personal dignity. No one is allowed to be quietly human any more, and it’s a shame.

All of that was brought to mind by this video of poor ol’ Bill Clinton, doing his best to be everywhere his wife can’t be, struggling to stay awake (and failing) during an MLK Day event. I may not want his wife to win, but I don’t consider it a major failing on his part that he just couldn’t make it through one… more… speech.

Harpootlian says he’s ‘handcuffed’ in opposing Clintons’ ‘Eddie Haskell’ campaign


"We’re handcuffed," moans Dick Harpootlian about his role in "truth-squadding" Bill Clinton’s whoppers about Obama.

"I’m ready to rip ’em a new one," he says, but the Obama campaign is holding him back. But entirely, though, this being Dick.

"I’ve dubbed the Clinton campaign the ‘Eddie Haskell Campaign,’ for claiming to want to run a clean campaign, then trashing Obama in the next breath. It’s like they’re saying, "Nice dress, Mrs. Cleaver," and as soon as she leaves the room, "Hey, Beav, your Mom looks like s__t." He says the strategy clearly is to turn voters off enough to suppress turnout.

So how, exactly, is Dick being restrained? "No one’s talked about 8 years in the White House," he says. OK, Dick, so what about their 8 years in the White House?

Dick says he can’t say. Apparently, if he does, Mom and Dad will give him the business.

On a personal note, let me add that today is Dick’s birthday, and he’s 59. I guess that’s why he’s expected to act all grown up and stuff now. This has him saying unDicklike things such as, "I really, really, really was shocked at the tactics they’ve employed in recent weeks."

Next thing ya know, he’ll be referring to Lumpy as "Clarence."


Polls point to big Obama lead in SC

When I got an e-mail pointing me to these poll results yesterday…

New South Carolina Poll: Obama expands lead
Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 28
John Edwards 15
Dennis Kucinich 1

… I held off on posting them, because I wanted independent confirmation from a source I know more about. Sure, as the e-mail pointed out, this outfit "correctly predicted John McCain’s victory in last weekend’s Republican primary," but then so did a lot of people.

I will say in Public Policy Polling’s behalf that The Wall Street Journal had no such qualms, reporting its findings today without qualifications:

After lagging far behind Mrs. Clinton in state polls for much of last year, Mr. Obama has jumped ahead. According to an automated poll conducted Monday by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Obama leads Mrs. Clinton 44% to 28%, with about 12% of respondents undecided. As late as October, Mrs. Clinton had a 20-percentage-point lead in many surveys.

But for the sake of consistency, I tend to wait each day for Zogby’s latest (even though in one dramatic instance this season, he got it dramatically wrong, but who can account for such factors as this?). Anyway, here’s what Zogby had to say today:

Clinton nearly 20 points back; Edwards lags further
UTICA, New York – Buoyed by a tide of African-American support, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is almost 20 points ahead of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the days ahead of the South Carolina Democratic Party primary.
    A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby telephone poll taken Jan. 20-22 shows Obama holding 43% support from likely Democratic voters, compared to Clinton’s 25% support. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards trails at 15%. The survey included 811 likely Democratic primary voters and has a margin for error of +/-3.4 percentage points.
    African Americans, a group that made up slightly more than half of the sample, backed Obama by a margin of 65% to Clinton’s 16%. Eighteen percent of black voters said they were undecided. Clinton did better among white voters, getting 33% support to 32% for Edwards. Obama lagged at just 18% among whites.

I should add that, in commentary Zogby offered to paying subscribers, he also said the following:

    Like other states before, this race appears to be fluid. After the first night of polling, Obama led by some 20 points. The second night alone, Clinton was down by just 10. So, is there movement? Yes, back and forth.
    The question here in South Carolina is, if Obama wins South Carolina, will his win be big enough? If his lead is cut to single digits, given where this race has been in recent weeks, it stands to be a big victory for Clinton.

To me, that’s really stretching the expectations game. A win by Barack Obama in South Carolina, after having been well behind Sen. Clinton for most of 2007, is a clear, meaningful win. The Clinton campaign knows what’s coming, which is why she has left the state — to give herself implausible, "I-didn’t-really-try-in-South-Carolina" deniability.

Obama inspires board, offers hope


A remarkable thing happened this week to The State’s editorial board — again. For us, it was the equivalent of lightning striking the same place, twice in the same month.
    After difficult, agonizing discussions over presidential primary endorsements in both 2000 and 2004, we arrived at a quick consensus on endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for the S.C. Democratic Primary on Saturday.
    We met with Sen. Obama Monday morning, before he and the other candidates spoke at the State House. (Neither Hillary Clinton nor John Edwards ever met with us, despite long-standing invitations — repeated invitations, in Sen. Clinton’s case.)
    Our decision was made easier by the departure of Sen. Joe Biden. We might have been torn between his experience and foreign policy vision, and fresh hope for the future offered by Sen. Obama.
    As it was, Sen. Obama clearly stood out as the best remaining candidate — and he had always been the most exciting and inspiring in the field.
    It’s not just that he might be the first black president — Sen. Clinton would make history, too. It’s that he offers a fresh start for American politics. It is his ambition to be a president for all of us — black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican. The nomination of Sen. Clinton would by contrast kick off another bitter round of the pointless partisanship that has plagued the nation under presidents named “Bush” and “Clinton.”
    As he did before the Republican primary, Associate Editor Mike Fitts framed the discussion of our Democratic endorsement, and did a sufficiently thorough job that the rest of us merely elaborated on his observations.
    First, he mentioned the support John Edwards had enjoyed among members of our board in 2004, although he did not get our endorsement then (in a grueling three-hour talkathon, I successfully pressed the board to choose Joe Lieberman instead). This time, he was “a substantially different guy” — an unappealing embodiment of class resentment.
    Also, his extreme position on Iraq — wanting to pull all troops out, even those who are training Iraqis — made him a nonstarter.
    About Hillary Clinton, Mike said the same thing he said about Mitt Romney 10 days earlier — “Boy, I wish she’d come in to see us, because I have so many questions.” Mike cited her obvious intelligence, and the fact that she “knows where the levers of power are” — especially within the Democratic Party. She’s worked the corridors of Washington since well before her time as first lady.
    But she could never have built the kind of coalitions that could break the partisan gridlock inside the Beltway — even if she wanted to, and we’ve seen little indication that she would want to.
    And her policy prowess is that of the insider. We saw her failed effort to reform our health care system as emblematic of her style — get a bunch of wonks in a room, close the door, and come up with something too complex and nuanced to sell.
    Barack Obama, by contrast, would be oriented toward — and more successful at — bringing the American public into the debate, and persuading us to agree to a solution. He has that leadership ability that she lacks.
    Sen. Obama has political gifts that are more reminiscent of former President Clinton. Of Sen. Clinton, Mike said, “She’s sort of caught between Obama and her husband, as two of the most evocative leaders we’ve had in a while.”
    While Sen. Obama is completely true to the highest traditions of the Democratic Party, he would have the potential to lead others as well. Sen. Clinton’s main interest in Republicans seems to be beating them, prevailing over them, having things go her way rather than theirs.
    “I would really like us to be talking about Joe Biden or Bill Richardson,” said Associate Editor Cindi Scoppe. That leaves her with what she sees as “an emotional decision,” which initially makes her uncomfortable. Cindi usually prefers the wonkiest option, but in the end she’s quite OK with “going for the exciting person who gives us hope.”
    “Hillary is very smart,” Associate Editor Warren Bolton agrees. But “I think she thinks she is the only one who has the answers.” Publisher Henry Haitz said the same thing, in almost the same words, a moment later.
    In the end, we came to a second quick consensus for much the same reason as the first time: We thought among the Republicans, John McCain had the best chance of uniting the country and leading in a positive direction. On the Democratic side, the one person who offers that same hope is Barack Obama.

(Both photos from the board’s meeting are by Chip Oglesby of To read The State‘s endorsement of Barack Obama, click here. For video about the endorsement, click here.)


Celebrity Grudge Match: Dick Harpootlian vs. Bill Clinton

Barack Obama, using a strategy we saw employed by John McCain in the GOP contest, has launched a counterattack operation:

South Carolina Truth Squad Formed to Respond to Counter Clinton Attacks
COLUMBIA – In a conference call with Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former South Carolina Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, and South Carolina state Representative Bakari Sellers, the Obama campaign today announced the creation of a South Carolina Truth Squad to respond to misleading negative attacks from the Clinton campaign.
    “We’re creating a South Carolina Truth Squad today to respond to a series of misleading attacks from the Clinton campaign,” Senator Daschle said. “South Carolinians and voters across the country want an honest debate about the issues, and they’re tired of a discussion dominated by misleading half quotes and distortions. We’re here to be vigilant and set the record straight.”
    In addition, Truth Squad member Dick Harpootlian responded to President Bill Clinton’s false accusation that his wife and Senator Obama have the same record on Iraq – even though Obama is the only candidate in the race who showed the courage and judgment to oppose the war before it started.
    “This morning, Bill Clinton continued his Washington, DC-style attacks against Barack Obama when he claimed there’s ‘not a dime’s worth of difference’ between Hillary Clinton and Obama on Iraq,” said Harpootlian.  “As Hillary Clinton herself said last night, the record and the truth matter. The truth is, Senator Clinton cannot divorce her record of voting for the War in Iraq in 2002 from her Iraq policy today.  To say there is not a dime’s worth of difference simply does not square with the record or the truth.”…

I can only think that if Dick Harpootlian is involved, the truth is going to have a decided edge to it. Dick, after all, is the one SC Democrat who can speak truth to Dave Barry, and be heard.

If we can just get Dick and former President Clinton in a room together, I will pay money to watch.