Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Palmetto State Picks

By Shawn Healy
Saturday brings the second edition of the South Carolina primary as the Democrats face off in the fourth early test on the road to the party nomination. I handicapped the race in my Tuesday post, and little has changed over the course of the week, so I'll spare you the endless pontification and move quickly to my predictions for tomorrow.

South Carolina is a state that Sen. Barack Obama needs to win badly to remain competitive with Sen. Hillary Clinton as the campaign assumes a national flavor after Tuesday's Florida Primary (Note: the Democrats are not campaigning here so a likely victory for Clinton will be discounted in similar fashion to her Michigan win. Florida was denied all of its Democratic delegates by the party for leapfrogging the Feb. 5 deadline imposed on all but four states: IA, NH, NV and SC.). Polls show that the Illinois Senator retains a double-digit lead, so Obama is my surefire pick to click.

The battle for second place is between Hillary Clinton and native son John Edwards. The former NC senator is running a strong third in the polls in a state he defeated Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and remains a long shot for the overall nomination. He does continue to collect delegates, so should Obama and Clinton continue to divide delegates roughly evenly where neither garners a majority, Edwards could stand as the kingmaker come August. This is not just wishful thinking from a political junkie, mind you, especially if Edwards upholds his promise to remain in the race through the convention.

Expect Clinton to edge Edwards in a battle for second place and the corresponding delegates. Edwards' rationale for remaining in the race will be questioned from here on out where he will be encouraged to join Dennis Kucinich and other early dropouts on the sideline as spectators in this historic matchup.

Unfortunately, this contest has assumed a starkly racial flavor. While African-American voters support Obama overwhelmingly, white voters split their allegiance by similar counts between Clinton and Edwards. Some have suggested that this is a strategic calculation by the Clintons who would love Obama to become the proverbial "black candidate" with a narrow base of support nationally, when Obama sought to shun this label from Day One. He has arguably embraced it conveniently in South Carolina, but this could spell trouble come Feb. 5.

A large quantity of ink and chatter has been devoted to the devolution of this contest into personal attacks leveled by the Clinton's at the junior senator who has been calling for an end to political polarization. He woke up one morning recently and found himself in an alley fight instead, and he's responded with some violent counterpunches of his own. Obama remarked that he's not certain who he's campaigning against, Hillary or her husband. The correct answer is both.

Is Bill's verbal sparring with Obama representative of conduct unbecoming of a former president? He's served as Hillary's surrogate in South Carolina this week and the state's voters will weigh in on this tomorrow. My guess is the jabs hurt Hillary here, but may seal the deal in later contests as the largely untested Obama is clearly battered. Come fall, whoever wins the nomination may come to regret the child play of the past couple of weeks. Rest assured that Republicans are sitting back with puzzled amusement and eager anticipation.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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