Saturday, January 26, 2008

Live Blogging from South Carolina

By Tim Wheeler, national political correspondent, People's Weekly World

Columbia, S.C.- Its primary election day here in South Carolina and the army of volunteers who have flooded into the state to campaign for Barack Obama have already left the YMCA and fanned out to polling places across this city.

It is chilly and threatening rain but the media is predicting a record voter turnout of people fired up by Obama's message of hope. I rode down from Baltimore on a bus with 40 other volunteers. It was chartered by three members of the Maryland General Assembly who have kept us working diligently since we arrived. Nights we sleep on the gymnasium floor of the Y, strewn with mostly youthful volunteers from as far away as California. Early this morning two more busloads arrived from Washington, D.C.

I have been canvassing with a friend, Rev. Pierre Williams, a United Methodist minister in Baltimore. We got a vivid feel for just how deeply Obama's message is resonating here going door-to-door in a working class neighborhood yesterday.

Sherman Stewart, employed as a maintenance worker at the Governor's Mansion here in the state capital told us, "I've been listening to all the candidates and I feel that Barack Obama is the one who can turn this country around.Everyone is feeling the insecurity from the way the economy is going. Veterans of the Iraq war are coming home and finding out their credit is all messed up, their health care is messed up. We're spending billions upon billions over there in Iraq, preaching democracy to the world, and we have millions of children here who are hungry and without health care.I'm getting ready to retire and there are so many people losing their pensions, or can't afford their medicine."

Richard Edwards came walking by. He is a student at Midlands Technical College and a U.S. Navy veteran. He deplored former President Bill Clinton's divisive statements here in South Carolina such as his dismissive statement that Obama's message of hope is a "fairy tale," implying that the Illinois Senator is too young and inexperienced to be president.

"I think Clinton's statement really affected Black voters," he told the World. "It put the Black community in a negative light. Obama is trying to unite people of all races and backgrounds, young and old, men and women. Clinton's statement has divided South Carolina. We don't need that here. I believe Barack is going to win but by a narrower margin. I hope Barack sticks to his message, positive change, hope, bringing us together, Black, white independent, even Republicans."

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