Thanks a lot, Bill Clinton
This past week Sen. Hillary Clinton left South Carolina to campaign in Feb. 5 voting states. But she left behind her husband, Bill, as her surrogate campaigner and attacker of Sen. Barack Obama.
It's looking tonight, as Obama racks up a huge margin of victory in the Palmetto State, like that was a mistake. A large one.
The spectacle of a former president getting down and dirty in the current political trenches with numerous attacks on the freshman Illinois senator may have backfired big-time.
According to CNN exit polls, the ex-president's campaigning was an important factor in nearly 60% of Democrats' voting decisions. Of those, 47% went for Obama and only 38% for Clinton's wife. Fourteen percent went for John Edwards.
The polls also indicate that 20% of South Carolina Democratic voters made their decision in the last three days, when news coverage of B. Clinton's attacks on Obama were intense. Of those 20% late-deciders, fully 57% went for Obama while only 18% voted for the New York senator.
Additionally, the Obama campaign provided statistics showing that the two Greenville precincts that the ex-president visited today ended up voting 78% and 80% for Obama, while giving H. Clinton only 15% and 16% and Edwards 2% and 5%.
An Obama spokesman estimated based on early returns that his candidate would capture 25 South Carolina delegates tonight, Clinton 12 and Edwards 8. The Associated Press reported Clinton now has a running delegate total of 249, Obama 167 and Edwards 58.
Late tonight, a Clinton aide said that Bill Clinton would continue campaigning for his wife. Based on South Carolina's unfolding results, that may be good news for the Obama crowd.
-- Andrew Malcolm