- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It has been more than 30 years since Jimmy Carter became the only Democratic presidential nominee since Jack Kennedy to pocket South Carolina’s electoral votes. But South Carolina’s status as a bright red state has not deterred Hillary Rodham Clinton from trying to use the rock-ribbed Republican stronghold as a catapult to her party’s nomination. In a brilliantly conceived stroke of political lightning, the Clinton campaign has spent a minimum of $120,000 purchasing the endorsement and the political services of South Carolina state Sen. Darrell Jackson.

In corralling Mr. Jackson, Mrs. Clinton seems to have hit the political trifecta. Not only is he one of South Carolina’s most powerful elected black leaders, but Mr. Jackson also serves as the pastor of Bible Way Church in the state capital of Columbia. With an estimated 9,000 members, it is one of the state’s largest black churches, where politics are traditionally practiced. Mr. Jackson also operates Sunrise Enterprises, a political-consulting and public-relations firm whose services the Clinton campaign has purchased for at least one year at the price of $10,000 per month. By historical standards, that may seem high for “walking around” money in the South. But for a campaign that conceivably could raise as much as $500 million before the Democratic National Convention, $120,000 is chump change. (If, during the 2004 primary season, a relatively uninspiring John Kerry could raise nearly $250 million while limiting himself to individual donations of $2,000, how much can the Clinton machine raise when its individual limit will be $4,600?)

Mrs. Clinton also won the endorsement and support of state Sen. Robert Ford, another black leader in South Carolina who immediately announced that “every Democrat running on a [Barack Obama-led] ticket would lose because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket. We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything.”

Mrs. Clinton won these two key endorsements in a zero-sum game. Her victory was a loss for Mr. Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina. In 2004, the support of Messrs. Jackson and Ford enabled Mr. Edwards to capture his only primary victory, a timely achievement that kept him in the game and helped him get the vice presidential nomination. With Messrs. Jackson and Ford leading the Edwards charge in a state where half of Democratic primary voters are black, Al Sharpton received only 10 percent of the South Carolina primary vote in 2004. Also worth noting is that South Carolina was the only state to give Jesse Jackson a majority of its delegates at both the 1984 and 1988 conventions.

South Carolina is now scheduled to hold the only primary on Jan. 29. That’s one week after New Hampshire and one week before the potentially make-or-break first Tuesday in February, when numerous mega-delegate states, including California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, are considering holding their primaries. Catapult indeed.

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