Senator Barack Obama scored a decisive victory in South Carolina’s primary against Senator Hillary Clinton. Then he picked up endorsements from two members of the Kennedy family.
“Yes we can” (si se puede). With those words Senator Barack Obama concluded his victory speech in South Carolina last Saturday evening and mingled with the crowd in a statesman-like manner. After all the votes were tallied, the results exceeded the margins of victory that were reported in all the previous polls. Obama received 55 percent; Clinton had 27 percent; and former Senator John Edwards (a native of South Carolina) garnered 18 percent. Clinton apparently sensing the upset in S. C., left for Tennessee where, at a rally in Memphis, she acknowledged Obama’s victory.
Obama was gracious in his victory and lavish in his praise for the people of S. C. as he reached back to Iowa and said, “Tonight the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina. After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long time.” The scoreboard has Obama two: Iowa and S. C. and Clinton two: New Hampshire and Nevada. Now they are moving west for the great debate and big tossup on February 5, called “Super Tuesday,” where 24 states will be having their primaries and caucuses, and the stakes, in terms of delegates, are monumental.
In reference to delegates, Democrats use a mathematical formula to determine the percentage a candidate gets. To ensure greater consistency in the process, each candidate must have the support of a minimum of 15 percent of those present at any meeting, precinct caucuses through the state convention to remain viable.
Fresh from his win in S. C., Obama picked up two significant endorsements: Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, and her uncle, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, elder statesman of the Democratic Party, and Obama’s colleague in the United States Senate. Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement has been described as a “strong endorsement” as it is projected to assist Obama to make inroads into Labor unions and the Latino Community, where Sen. Kennedy’s appeal looms large. According to political strategists that the polls seem to bear out, Clinton has name recognition and she is strong in the Latino communities across the country, a consequential effect from her husband. So, Sen. Kennedy’s presence in the Obama camp may be the force needed to level the playing field somewhat.
The national news media reported that the press conference at the American University, Washington, D. C. where the endorsements were heralded to the world was such a five-star ceremony, in form and substance, that it overshadowed the President’s State of the Union address last Monday. There, Sen. Kennedy told the crowd, “Sen. Obama generates new hope that our greatest days, as a nation, are still ahead.” He also described Obama as, “a man who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.”
But it was Caroline Kennedy who “stole the show.” She uncharacteristically came into the public’s spotlight—where she had stayed away from for years—to endorse Obama, with an hard-hitting “op-ed” in the New York Times last Sunday, that stated in part: “Over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.”
The late president’s daughter went on to add: “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president—not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”
At the same time, another part of the Kennedy family—three of the late Senator and presidential contender, Robert F. Kennedy’s children voiced their support for Clinton. But as Obama proclaimed in his victory speech, “This will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.”
It is important to note that Obama is drawing in individuals from all spectrums of society into his orbit of inclusion and meaningful change. Nobel Prize winning author and Pulitzer Prize recipient, Toni Morrison, has endorsed Obama, her first public endorsement, and directed a letter to him from which the following text is excerpted: “In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. When was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was unembargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country’s citizens as “we” not “them”? Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.
“There have been a few prescient leaders, in our past, but you are the man for this time.” The letter ended with the author’s name however, she did mention her admiration for Clinton whom she had apparently known for a number of years.
The chairs of the California State Legislative Black Caucus (LBC), the Latino Caucus and the Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus have also endorsed Obama, in addition, the LBC has endorsed him as an organization.