Barack Obama had a large margin of victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, drawing 55% of the vote compared with 27% for Clinton. Hillary Clinton, that is.
Former President Bill has dominated the post-primary coverage for invoking Jesse Jackson in downplaying Obama's SC win, the apparent message being that Obama's appeal with voters there stemmed from his race as opposed to his viability as a national candidate based on other characteristics.
This is an unfortunate turn for the Democrats in general, one Republican insider told me, as it shifts the general discussion about the Democratic race to “race” when the party would prefer a competition between (Hillary) Clinton and Obama that focuses on the evils of the Republicans in general and the Bush administration in particular.
Then again, how significant in the long term is an offhand comment from a non-candidate? Certainly, how it affects (Hillary) Clinton and Obama themselves is less clear. For Hillary, the continued popping up of Bill may just reinforce questions about whether she stands as a candidate in her own right and whether her message of “change” is genuine.
Or perhaps (Bill) Clinton's comments really might raise questions about how Obama's win in SC translates into success elsewhere -- whether that's fair or not – given that primary voters are often said to pick the candidate they don't necessary like the best but who they think has the best shot at beating the other party. That's a big reason John Kerry won the nomination in '04.
On the Republican side, McCain's victory in South Carolina the previous week is good for his candidacy, but the Republican race still has not solidified into any sort of clear matchup. Instead, coverage seems to be more about who will drop out next, perhaps after Florida's primary on Tuesday.
Giuliani's poor poll numbers – he's expected to finish third or fourth, with either McCain or Romney winning, and Huckabee possibly finishing third – has cued a media deathwatch.
Elsewhere on the trail…
Romney cultivates Bush family connections.
Music soothes the savage voter.
Edwards' memo to reporters: ‘I'm still here.'
No money? No problem, claims Huckabee.