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Campaign 2008

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After South Carolina, Obama Pledges to Keep Iraq Issue Alive

by Joanna Klonsky
January 27, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), with broad support from African-American and women voters, won South Carolina ‘s Democratic primary (NYT) Saturday with 55 percent of the vote. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) got 27 percent of the vote, and John Edwards, a native of the state, won 18 percent.

Exit polls showed just 19 percent of South Carolina voters named the war in Iraq the most important issue. That 19 percent apparently preferred Obama’s plan for Iraq over Clinton’s or Edwards’, largely voting for the Illinois Senator. In last week’s GOP primary, 16 percent of South Carolina Republicans named Iraq as their top issue, according to exit polls (CBS). Democratic voters Saturday also turned out at higher rates than Republicans did last week. 500,000 Democratic votes were cast Saturday, compared with 450,000 in the South Carolina GOP primary.

In his victory speech last night, Obama pledged to “carry on from South Carolina” the stories of people he met there who were affected by the war. “I don’t want the war in Iraq to be forgotten,” he said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.

Exit polls showed that 52 percent of Democratic voters named the U.S. economy as the most important issue facing the country, while 25 percent of voters chose health care, according to the AP. In her speech conceding the South Carolina race last night, Clinton noted voters’ anxiety over the economy. “People are worrying about their jobs, worrying about what’s happening to the economy in general, worrying about their health care, worrying about college affordability,” she said. Edwards spoke about the economy in the same vein in his concession speech: “If you’re one of the forgotten middle class, people who are working and struggling just to pay their bills, literally worried about every single day, we will give you voice in this campaign,” he said.

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