Top candidates in S.C. for King day event

January 21, 2008 8:53:05 AM PST
Three of the Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination speak today at a Martin Luther King Day rally at the South Carolina statehouse. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards will be speaking to their target audience, with black voters expected to make up about half of those casting ballots in Saturday's Democratic primary.

The "King Day at the Dome" was created in part to criticize the flying of the Confederate flag over the statehouse.

Yesterday, Obama's wife Michelle and Clinton's daughter Chelsea were tucked among hundreds of congregants on opposite sides of a black church, clapping in unison with the choir during Sunday services.

The sermon was delivered by a state senator who's a paid consultant for the Clinton campaign. A member of the church is Obama's South Carolina political director.

Poll: Giuliani trails McCain in NY, Clinton leads Obama

Meanwhile, Rudolph Giuliani's once commanding lead in the race for New York's Republican delegates has evaporated and he now trails Sen. John McCain in his home state, according to a poll released Monday.

The Siena College poll also showed Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a 2-to-1 advantage over Sen. Barack Obama in the delegate-rich state she represents in Congress.

Giuliani trailed McCain by 12 percentage points, a sharp reversal from the former New York City mayor's 33-point lead over the Arizona senator in December.

McCain had the support of 36 percent of New York Republicans, while Giuliani had 24 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 10 percent.

Siena's Steven Greenberg called the latest numbers "a stunning turnaround."

"While America's mayor still has strong support among New York City Republicans, he is getting beat by McCain in the suburbs and trounced upstate," Greenberg said.

U.S. Rep. Peter King said Giuliani, who was the defiant face of New York and America in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, will still take the state in the primary.

"The people of New York know better than anyone that Rudy is the bold and gutsy leader our country needs right now to tackle the tough challenges," the Long Island Republican said. "Mayor Giuliani will win New York because voters around the country want a president who has been tested in crisis, is a proven tax cutter and will get results because he's gotten them before."

Greenberg said Republican women gave Giuliani a small edge while Republican men backed McCain, the Vietnam war hero, by a 3-to-1 margin.

For the first time in a Siena poll, Giuliani had a higher unfavorable rate - 48 percent - than favorable just six years after the Sept. 11 attacks. McCain was viewed favorably by 56 percent of New Yorkers.

Giuliani, for years considered a leading GOP candidate for president, has taken a beating from Iowa through New Hampshire to Nevada and South Carolina. Giuliani has focused on Florida, believing that if he can score his first win there he will be launched toward a series of victories in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries.

Recent polls showed McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the Iowa caucuses, bunched together in the fight for the lead in Florida.

As for the Democrats, Clinton still leads Obama among black Democrats.

"Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton still has a strong home field advantage, maintaining a two-to-one lead over Barack Obama," Greenberg said. "While he has picked up considerable support with African- and Caribbean-American Democrats, Obama still trails Clinton 46-36 percent among black Democrats, and Clinton has a 50-18 percent lead with white Democrats."

Clinton had the support of 48 percent of New York Democrats polled. Obama had 23 percent.

"We are gratified by the outpouring of support for Sen. Clinton throughout New York, but are taking nothing for granted and working hard for every vote," said Clinton spokesman Blake Zeff.

Twenty-four states will hold voting contests on Feb. 5, with 1,678 Democratic delegates and 1,038 Republican delegates to the national presidential nominating conventions up for grabs. New York has 232 Democratic delegates and 101 Republican delegates.

For its New York poll, Siena called 625 registered voters from January 14-17. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

There was no immediate comment about the poll results from the McCain campaign.