Obama Gets His Mojo Back: Trounces Hillary in South Carolina

Barack Obama Trounces Hillary in South Carolina Primary

Senator Obama’s Victory Speech

Senator Barack Obama won a commanding victory over Hillary Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, building a coalition of support among African-American and white voters in a contest that sets the stage for a state-by-state fight for the party’s presidential nomination.  Obama’s convincing victory puts him on equal footing with Mrs. Clinton, with two wins each in early-voting states, and it gives him renewed momentum as the contest heads into a nationwide campaign over the next 10 days.

Nearly complete returns showed Obama with 55 percent of the vote, Clinton at 27 percent, and Edwards at 18 percent.  In his victory speech to supporters in Columbia (SC), Obama emphasized his message of change, referring to “this country’s desire for something new….Tonight, the cynics that said what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina,” Senator Obama said, referring to his last major victory in the Iowa caucus.  “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.”

In the South Carolina contest, more than half of the voters were African-American, and surveys of voters leaving the polls suggested that their heavy turnout helped to drive Obama to victory.  Exit polls showed that Obama, who had built an extensive grass-roots network throughout the state, received the support of about 80 percent of the African-American voters.  He also received about one-quarter of the white vote, with Clinton and Edwards splitting the remainder.

In The Atlantic Magazine, Andrew Sullivan has described Obama’s South Carolina acceptance speech as the best that he has given so far in the presidential campaign:

“I’ve now listened to and read dozens of his speeches, on television and in person and in print.  Tonight was, in my judgment, the best.  He was able to frame the attacks on him as a reason to vote for him.  He was able to frame his foes as the status quo – beyond the Clintons or the Bushes, Democrats or Republicans.  He was able to cast his candidacy as a rebuke to the Balkanization of the American public, a response to the abuse of religion for political purposes, a repudiation of the cynicism that makes all political commentary a function of horse-races and spin.  It was an appeal to Democrats, Republicans and Independents to say goodbye to all that.  It was a burial of Rove and Morris.  And it was better than his previous speeches because he kept bringing it back to policy specifics, to the economy and healthcare and, movingly, to this misbegotten war.  The diverse coalition he has assembled – including an ornery small-government conservative like me – is a reflection of the future of this country, its potential and its irreplaceable, dynamic cultural and social mix.

This is the America we all love.  He is showing us how to find it again.  That‘s leadership.”

Update:

Today, Caroline Kennedy announced her endorsement of Barack Obama for President:

Over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president.  This sense is even more profound today.  That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.”

You can read the full version of her endorsement in today’s issue of The New York Times.

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