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

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

Comments () | Archives (8)

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It is hard to believe the arrogance of Hillary Clinton's Martin Luther King comment during the NH debate. Then again, nothing coming from the Clinton camp amdist their continuous imperial march to power should surprise voters.

Let get to the bottom of this.Hillary talks about expernce but i do not think being a frist lady and a house hold name gives her experence on the economy..Both her and Obama are senaters...

"something that President Kennedy was "hopeful" to do..." This part of the statement by Clinton is to emphasize that Barack Obama's profound message of "hope" is only as good as wishing for something to happen. Her purpose was to imply weakness without accomplishment. But the true politics of hope replaces the politics of fear. It’s the opposite of wishy-washy. It exemplifies a strong attitude of far reaching possibility.

As I listened to her, I was also horrified and offended that her statements were extremely insensitive ignoring the sacrifices of civil rights activists and painful fact that both JFK and MLK fought for civil rights, but were murdered and made the ultimate sacrifice, how could they have finished the job? It wasn’t because they only hoped for change, they accomplished a great deal, but were taken out!

In addition, I cannot get past the ruthless allegations I’ve heard in her speeches in misrepresenting Senator Obama’s record consistently as part of her campaign or the smears carried out by Clinton surrogates against him. And Bill Clinton’s “fairy tale” remark against Obama is unacceptable and disrespectful towards a fellow Democrat. It is the Clintons that need a reality check! The change that America wants so badly is not about a black president or a woman president, America wants an end to the Bush/Clinton kind of ruthless government, America wants leadership we can be proud of.

Last week's dust up over comments made by Senator, former president Clinton and Attoney General Cuomo; a weakness has revealed itself. THE CLINTONS BELIEVE THEY OWN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!!! They are not interest in what is best for the party or the nation. They simply want to win. So the question we should ask(Our independant and republican friends can ask too) our fellow democrats is this: ARE YOU A DEMOCRAT OR A CLINTONIAN? A democrat desires to do what is best for the nation and will work with Republicans and Independants to see that the nation gets the best. A clintonian only cares about being proven right, inspite of being wrong.

"No king, no queen no surrender of my God given, right to chose for myself" Salem Poor-


No, you are wrong. The Clintons dont believe they own the Democratic party.... but where were the critics when the CLINTONS SAVED the democratic party from the Contract with America Neo Conversvatives and the Gingrich Revoloution??? The very fact that WE have vibrant party to day can be very much attributed to the work the Clintons did during the 1990's. Please do be naive to the facts and how heated it was back then when Judicial Watch was waging a war against the Dems.

The press has been pushing Obama as if he's the second coming. And on what basis?! Beautiful words are easy. One woman said he made her cry. Well, I'm an actress and I can definately make you cry. That doesn't make me Presidential material. What are all these claims about his incredible character? We don’t really know much about him at all. And if you look at the actual record, he and Edwards were the first to attack Hillary. I just don’t understand what this supposed "hate" for the Clinton's is. They have only done good for this country, they have given their lives to Public Service. The Clinton’s were hounded by Republicans throughout his tenure. They were investigated by the self-aggrandized Special Prosecutor to the tune of millions of dollars- but NOTHING WAS FOUND! Hillary is a fabulous woman and the Republicans are afraid of her, that's why they keep touting Obama. They know they can beat him, no matter how many of us Liberal, forward thinking people would be happy to have a Black President should he end up the nominee. It would be a terrible mistake and we'd end up with a Republican President. Whew- sorry- just been bursting at the stupidity of the Press and a lot of well-meaning Americans, too easily swayed by beutiful words. But words have to be followed by action. Does anyone think the Congress is going to jump to Barack Obama's bidding?! Is he going to change things by decree?! Hillary has forged years of good relationships with her fellow Congress people, including Republicans. Those relationships and iou's are what will be needed to get the work done that needs to be done. In fact, that is what Hillary was saying with her remark about President Johnson. Could anyone doubt the regard and respect the Clinton’s hold for Martin Luther King?! They have been at the forefront of Civil Rights! But she was right. No matter how successful an brilliant man like Dr. King was in raising awareness and battling prejudice and racism, only a President and his influence with the Congress, has the power to change the laws. Obama does not have that power nor those relationships and he’s tried to take advantage of what was obviously never meant to demean Dr. King. He is the only of the candidates to have injected race into the campaign. I think his tactics smell of the desire to win at all costs, and that certainly doesn’t speak well to his “character”.

Thank you East Side Love and Bryna Weiss. I could not have stated it better myself. I think Obama is a good man, but if he is chosen as the Democratic candidate, this country will likely vote for the Republican candidate. Unfortunately Americans have not evolved enough to see past race. It's a fact we must accept and yet continue to work to overcome. With that said, if I truly believed that Obama was the better candidate, I would not only vote for him, but I would campaign for him. Hillary is, no doubt, the best candidate around this time.
Bill Burbank

Well, Bryna, anyone you happen to meet from his Harvard Law days or his U Chicago days, or from his Chicago South Side organizing, is effusive with praise. So there may be a lot of evidence for Obama's incredible character. He is an amazingly decent man whose instincts tell him to trust the people of America, the process, candor, and the truth. I've got 36 years of evidence, but I won't go into that here. The truth is indeed beautiful, isn't it?

Let's instead look at your own beautiful words.

"I just don’t understand what this supposed 'hate' for the Clinton's is. They have only done good for this country, ..."

You really want to make this claim? They have only done good -- done nothing but good, and everything they have done is good? THAT sounds a lot like a fairy tale to me. I've supported Clintons from 1992 until 2007; I was no Clinton hater. Six months ago, I steadily began changing my opinion as I watched them say things that I know for a fact are not true. They play dirty. It's that simple. I can't support someone who has such disdain for the process and for the truth. It's fun to watch the Celtics' specialist Durod commit five fouls in five minutes when he is on your team, and you think people have been unfairly hounding Larry Bird, but when once you step back and watch from another point of view, you wonder whether dirty players should ever be allowed on the court. Now I'm pretty sure I'd turn out for McCain over either Clinton, and wondering whether the 90's would actually have been better if some other Democrat had occupied the White House.

You write

"Could anyone doubt the regard and respect the Clinton’s hold for Martin Luther King?! They have been at the forefront of Civil Rights!"

Yet it is interesting that Hillary claims to have been moved by MLK when he spoke in the 60's, and still arrived at Wellesley from her conservative upbringing, supporting Goldwater. Barry Goldwater, who was later implicated for ties to the KKK. How is that timeline supposed to work? I suppose MLK helped turn her away from her earlier path, but that is hardly the forefront of civil rights.

Actually, I disagree with this statement, too,

"He is the only [one] of the candidates to have injected race into the campaign."

Obama tries very hard to keep race out of the equation, because he will lose if he is labeled as "the black candidate." Anyway, he is much more complicated than that -- he was raised in a Pacific-Asian-Naval-Base-Civil-Liberties pro-American West-Coast culture, which dominates Hawaii and is quite familiar to California. His support is broad, and his racial identity does not fit any box easily. If his campaign responds, when people are trying to say things that might be insulting to black voters in SC, they have the right to respond to a request with a memo. The rest of the brouhaha is a press-creation, and a Bill-Clinton-creation, because "the race card" is not a winning strategy for a unity candidate who naturally has strong cross-cultural appeal, and Bill Clinton knows that. Think about that for a second. In whose interest is it, really, to make race an issue? Gender-based-appeal is Hillary's best strategy, and quite dubious when it comes time to put the party back together, but race-based-appeal is not something the Obama camp wants. If somehow you reached the conclusion that Obama was the source of such an appeal, you really have to backtrack and reconsider some of your beliefs. Oprah Winfrey (who I don't like much) and even Michelle Obama (who I think is fantastic) may have made race-based appeals, I agree. That is in part why Barack Obama, who is NOT a descendant of the acrimonious racial history of this country, is in a good place to heal wounds and take us forward. He doesn't harbor any resentment based on personal family history -- America has been nothing but good to his family's path. He is incensed, as I am, and as any decent person is, purely out of a sense of social justice and fairness.

But racial healing is not even the main objective, even as it has been the major historical motivator of much of our national history.

Healing in general, between entrenched interests, is Obama's way forward. Civility in politics, looking for common ground in legislation, being inclusive rather than divisive, getting past the battles of the 60's and the in-born and in-bred prejudices of the earlier generations. Some people think it's not possible, but Obama is actually speaking the way that ANY person raised in Hawaii would, on a national stage. We do things differently in a successful multicultural society where many people are mixed race, and all people want to work together for the betterment of their country. Hawaii is by no means perfect, but it's a lot better than the hundred-years-war between Bushes and Clintons we find ourselves in, or for that matter, the three hundred fifty years war that has been simmering beneath the surface of this nation.

I want to apologize for taking your words to task personally, but I must disagree with them. I am certain that with further review of what Barack Obama's campaign stands for, and what he is trying to do with his life, you will find some room for revision of your opinions.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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