Behind all the fuss about the racial issue in the South Carolina primary, Democratic insiders say Hillary Clinton's campaign may be implementing a broader strategy for dealing with Barack Obama in their fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton may be trying to paint Obama into a corner as a candidate who appeals mostly to African-Americans, not to the electorate as a whole, undermining his chances of winning a majority of the party, the insiders say. Whether it's intentional or not, that appears to be what's happening.
Recent polls indicate that Obama is backed by a solid majority of black voters in South Carolina but his support among whites is very small (in contrast to Iowa, where he surged among whites). "Is this the guy who can win around the whole country?" asks a veteran Democratic strategist who is neutral in the intraparty race. That's the question that the Clinton campaign wants fellow Democrats to be asking, the strategist says.
A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released this morning finds that Obama has a 38 to 25 percent lead over Clinton in South Carolina, but his margin is slipping. Edwards climbed up slightly to 21 percent. Obama had the support of 55 per cent of likely black voters in South Carolina, compared with Clinton's 18 percent. Among likely white voters, Edwards had 36 percent, Clinton 33, and Obama 18.
—Kenneth T. Walsh