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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2736

Huge Win for Obama: Clinton and Edwards Continue the Fight into 22 States on Super Tuesday

By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles

Intense campaigning electrified South Carolina where Illinois Senator Barrack Obama scored a big win as well as momentum. Obama won 58 percent to 27 percent over Hillary Clinton. Obama will take it a notch higher now as several southern states poll next on the February 5th. The campaigns will shift to 22 states on Super Tuesday, when the generality of American voters as well as Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Indians show their preferences in several large states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. There are also close to 800 super delegates outside the voting booths, eligible to be counted at the democratic Convention. Candidates are trying to win them over as contests become very close. Edwards will also continue with is campaign vying for delegates as he goes along. Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., right, kisses his wife, Michelle, as they take the stage during a rally in Columbia, S.C. Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008.Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., right, kisses his wife, Michelle, as they take the stage during a rally in Columbia, S.C. Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008.

This is good a win for Obama who last won in Iowa and lost to Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina showing a good third place meant that he will go to Super Tuesday with greater expectations. Obama's support among African-American voters gave him a good foothold while striving to woo young voters, independents and educated upper-middle-class liberals -- the National Public Radio vote. Winning the black vote by a solid margin meant Obama had standing with the Democratic Party's base.

Hillary Clinton could not split the black vote with Obama, the way she wanted to and called the representative candidate from her party. She has to rid herself from the label that she was only the dreaded status quo nominee.

Polls seemed right for once showing that the election was going Obama’s way. The McClatchy MSNBC poll conducted few days ago reported Obama leading with the support of 38 percent of the likely Democratic primary voters polled. Clinton was in second place with 30 per cent and Edwards was backed by 19 per cent. Among black primary voters, Obama had a more significant lead over Clinton, 59 percent to 25 percent. The poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.

Obama's wife, Michelle, was brought into the race conversation Wednesday when she was asked what role it played in the election. "My deep hope is that people will base their decision on who they think they can trust, who's got a vision for the country, who's bringing a different tone to politics, who's going to really take this country in a different direction," she told a News 14 Carolina reporter. "And quite frankly, I think the only person who comes close to that is Barrack, and he happens to be a black man," she said.

Former President Clinton, who has been tirelessly campaigning for his wife in South Carolina, found the going tough. South Carolinians were witnessing one of the fiercely fought contests. Both camps accused each other of distortion. The former president and the Obama campaign have traded barbs almost daily. In a debate Monday, Obama himself seemed frustrated by the attacks by Bill Clinton, saying "I can't tell who I am running against sometimes."

On hind sight the Clintons may now regret the exchange of jabs that took place between Obama and their campaign. In a radio ad aired in South Carolina but later pulled, Bill Clinton questioned comments Obama made to a Reno newspaper's editorial board in which he called former President Reagan a "transformational" figure, unlike Bill Clinton, and asked if Obama's praise for the former Republican leader was what he said. The Obama camp accused Bill Clinton of twisting his words and ran its own radio ad in which the announcer says "Hillary Clinton, she'll say anything and change nothing."

Bill Clinton's high-profile appearances in South Carolina and his attacks on Obama have raised concerns within the black community and questions about the 42nd president's role on the campaign trail. On Wednesday, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and a prominent Obama supporter, said some of Clinton's recent remarks on the campaign trail were appeals based on race and gender, meant to "suppress the vote, demoralize voters and distort the record." The Clinton campaign, however, says Bill Clinton is simply defending his wife's record and the Obama campaign is showing its frustration when it goes after him.

Edwards who seemed to gain from these barbs by Clinton and Obama and fared better than what the polls predicted a few weeks ago. He will definitely remain in the campaign now. He will have a significant impact on the primary process, which is increasingly coming down to a delegate race. Edwards can win delegates even if he does not win states. On January 15, Edwards pledged, "I'm in this for the long haul. We're continuing to accumulate delegates. There's actually a very narrow margin between Sen. Obama, Sen. Clinton and myself on delegates."

Edwards launched an ad that highlights the heated back-and-forth between the two rivals. The ad, called "Grown-up," is Edwards' effort to draw attention to the ongoing scuffle between his rivals, while painting himself as above the fray. The ad echoes comments Edwards has repeatedly made on the trail since the primaries began.

The Republican race seemed still fractured four ways. The first three caucus and primary contests yielded three different winners for the Republicans, with the real possibility that a third winner might emerge, Giuliani, in Florida on January 29.

The question that the two parties can settle for two front runners each after February 5th may still be in doubt if the results are too close as delegate count gets divided. The conventional wisdom that after the 22 states holds primaries or caucuses to choose nearly half the delegates to conventions in August that winners will emerge on both sides may not materialize. This may be particularly so in the Republican race, where Romney has the lowest national poll numbers but the largest bank spending power, with Huckabee and McCain in the opposite position.

In the final analysis, the inability to predict a winner even after February 5th shows the closeness of the contest and the divisions within the ruling elite. This debate is driven by the debacle in Iraq, where there is still wide disagreement when the war will end as well as how to deal with the rapidly deteriorating economic situation and eruption of a series of crises in the financial markets. Consensus seemed slow to emerge in the face of recession, widespread foreclosures, and the erosion of the dollar driving away investors out of dollar-denominated assets and into assets linked to the euro or the yen.

An additional factor that must be reckoned with is how the so-called super-delegates-congressmen, senators, governors and members of the national committees of the two parties, who remained to be won over at the convention with a full vote, alongside those chosen in primaries and caucuses.

- Asian Tribune -

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