DIARY / davenj1 //
Posted at 7:12 am on August 6, 2020 by davenj1
There, just as voters were making up their minds, she said that Obama was a skilled orator with few accomplishments. That was fair enough (and true), but she went further comparing him to Martin Luther King, Jr. She noted that King was the leader of the civil rights movement and a great orator, but it was a President (a white one at that) who actually got civil rights legislation passed. In one interview, she managed to apparently diminish the efforts of King.
The result was staggering and a blow to Hillary. Obama managed to take 55% of the vote overall- 30 points ahead of her. He took 25% of the white vote with the remainder being split between Clinton and Edwards, but most importantly, Obama took 78% of the black vote which was important since they were more than half the Democrat electorate in South Carolina. The drama in South Carolina also had lingering effects that extended beyond that state. In response to Obama’s victory, several black leaders elsewhere started to endorse Obama. John Lewis, a powerful member of Congress and within the civil rights community from Georgia, withdrew his endorsement of Clinton and endorsed Obama instead. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) threw his support behind Obama after roundly criticizing Clinton’s racial politicking in South Carolina.
The campaign did not end in South Carolina, but it was a turning point. Clear demographic divisions started to develop with the Obama coalition consisting of blacks (he was near 80% support there), young voters, and college-educated white liberals. Clinton, on the other hand, had the Latino vote as well as blue-collar whites. There were skirmishes along the way, particularly when the incendiary rhetoric of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, came to light. This forced Obama into a long speech about race that never really addressed Wright per se. Each candidate’s wagon was big enough to win votes, carry states, and amass delegates, but not big enough to decide the race.
Obama gained an advantage in the delegate count which left Clinton’s only chance at the nomination in the hand of the super-delegates. However, if they were to decide the nomination, then Obama could claim that Clinton went around the will of the primary voters and was nominated undemocratically. If all this sounds familiar, it should because the same dynamic occurred in 2016 between Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
As the primary season wound down, things were not going well between Hillary and Obama. In Pennsylvania, Obama sharpened his tone and attacked Clinton for her failed health care initiative while she was First Lady and she counter-attacked and charged Obama with mimicking Republicans. In a 60 Minutes interview, she was asked if Obama was a Muslim and she answered with the flippant caveat, “…as far as I know.” In an interview with USA Today, she noted that Obama’s support among white voters was weakening and that she represented the best option to win over blacks and whites. She compared Obama’s pending primary victory in Oregon with the picture of George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier under the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
Perhaps her biggest misstep was talking about the assassination of RFK. Trying to make a point about nominations going down to the primary wire, she did the politically stupid: never raise the specter of assassination to explain your rival’s political chances. Forced to apologize, she made matters worse by trying to change the subject. Because Florida and Michigan moved their primaries up in the calendar in defiance of the DNC, it raised the possibility their delegates would not be seated at the late August convention. She compared that fight with the recent fraudulent elections in the African country of Zimbabwe.
Next: The birth of birtherism