McCain takes SC, Dems battling again

January 20, 2008 10:44:51 AM PST
A big win in South Carolina Saturday for John McCain, his second signifcant win after taking the New Hampshire primary on January 8th.Winning in South Carolina, he avenged a bitter personal defeat in a state that's a bation of conservatism. And he gained ground in an unpredictable race for the Republican nomination.

"We've got a long way to go," McCain told The Associated Press in an interview. The man whose campaign was left for dead six months ago quickly predicted that victory in the first southern primary would help him next week when Florida votes, and again on Feb. 5 when more than two dozen states hold primaries and caucuses.

No republican since 1980 has won the party's nomination without first winning South Carolina.

Republicans now look ahead to Florida, a state where Rudy Giuliani is campaigning hard, and it's a must-win for him. That vote comes on the 29th.

But first the democrats will vote next Saturday in South Carolina. Barack Obama has the lead in most polls right now. He and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama split the spoils in Nevada caucuses Saturday, a vote marred by late charges of dirty politics.

"This is one step on a long journey," Clinton told cheering supporters in Las Vegas. She captured the popular vote, but Obama edged her out for national convention delegates at stake, taking 13 to her 12.

Obama issued a statement that said he had conducted an "honest, uplifting campaign ... that appealed to people's hopes instead of their fears."

But Clinton's campaign issued a statement citing numerous reports of voter intimidation. It also accused UNITE HERE, a union supporting Obama, of running a radio commercial that was "one of the most scurrilous smears in recent memory." The ad, broadcast in Spanish, said Clinton "does not respect our people" and called her shameless.

Obama had pinned his Nevada hopes on an outpouring of support from the 60,000-member Culinary union. But it appeared that turnout was lighter than expected at nine caucuses established along the Las Vegas Strip, and some attending held signs reading, "I support my union. I support Hillary."

Democrats looked next to South Carolina to choose between Obama, the most viable black candidate in history, and Clinton, seeking to become the first woman to occupy the White House. The state is home to thousands of black voters, who are expected to comprise as much as half the Democratic electorate.

After that, the race goes national on Feb. 5, with 1,678 national Democratic convention delegates at stake.

No matter the state, the economy was the top issue in all three races on the ballot.

Republicans in Nevada and South Carolina cited immigration as their second most-important concern. Among Democrats in Nevada, health care was the second most-important issue followed by the Iraq war, which has dominated the race for months.