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South Carolina's biggest paper backs Obama

January 22, 2008 | 11:06 pm

The largest and most influential newspaper in South Carolina, where the Civil War began, endorsed an African American, Barack Obama, for the state's Democratic primary late Tuesday.

The State newspaper in Columbia, which endorsed Sen. John McCain before he won the state's Republican primary Saturday, said Obama's campaign "is an argument for a more unifying style of leadership" and, as a son of Africa, he has "the best chance to repair the damage to America's global reputation."

Reviewing the field that Democratic voters will evaluate come Saturday, the State praises Rep. Dennis Kucinich's "bold plan on health care, but his platform is unlikely to endear him to many in South Carolina." The paper said former Sen. John Edwards "has morphed away from ...

the optimist who won South Carolina in 2004 ... is angry now, and pushing hard to turn working-class angst into political opportunity." It also criticized his Iraq withdrawal plan as "the least prudent."

The editorial also devotes considerable space to making a case against a Hillary Clinton presidency. It called her "a policy wonk" who "has intelligence and a deep understanding of many issues."

But, it argued, "the restoration of the Clintons to the White House would trigger a new wave of all-out political warfare.... Clinton doesn't pretend that it won't happen; she simply vows to persevere, in the hope that her side can win. Indeed, the Clintons' joint career in public life seems oriented toward securing victory and personal vindication."

The State praises Obama for his careful talk of winning over independents and even Republicans. "He is harsh on the failures of the current administration -- and most of that critique well-deserved," the newspaper says. "But he doesn't use his considerable rhetorical gifts to demonize Republicans ... for him, American unity -- transcending party -- is a core value in itself."

Calling Obama "a groundbreaking nominee," the paper's editorial calls him "the only Democrat who plausibly can say that he wants to work with Americans across the political spectrum to address such subjects."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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