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Clintons' words could push a key S.C. endorsement away

January 12, 2008 |  5:02 pm

DETROIT -- You should see our inboxes. Every day a flood, and every day a whole bunch of these: "Politico X endorses Candidate B as the only true chance to return glory to America" or some such breathless prose.

The reality is few endorsements carry much weight. But there's one Democrat in South Carolina whose endorsement would be a big get, especially given how tight the Democratic campaign is. The politico? U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, and one of the strongest and most respected political figures in South Carolina.

Initially Clyburn planned to sit out the race as he steered his state to "early primary" status -- Democrats vote there Jan. 26. But recent comments by the Clintons about civil rights history and the "fairy tale" of Barack Obama's depiction of his stance against the Iraq war have rankled the congressman, and now he's thinking about backing a candidate.

He didn't say who he'd endorse, but our bet would be on Obama, who has been faring quite well in polls there already. A Clyburn endorsement this close to the vote would make it awfully hard for Clinton to pull off another poll-defying win.

-- Scott Martelle

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