South Carolina In Flux

A spate of negative press may finally be catching up to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. A new poll shows her in dangering of losing her second place standing to John Edwards, editorial boards across the country -- from the coasts to the plains -- have excoriated the campaign for running demonstratively false radio ad, and Bill Clinton's adrenal outbursts are being universally judges as harmful.

There was a better than even chance that had polls show John Edwards trailing Clinton significantly in South Carolina, he might have ended his campaign early. A lot of that support -- white, working class voters and poor black voters -- would have swung Clinton's campaign.

Joe Erwin, an Obama supporter who never minces his words, wrote in a campaign memo that "Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pulling out all the stops to win in South Carolina." He noted that the Clinton doubled its advertising buy to nearly $414,000 per week.

A few hours later, the Clinton campaign responded with Obama's own words:

Earlier today, the Obama campaign circulated an expectations-setting memo that asserted that Senator Clinton is going “all-out” to win in South Carolina. But just two days ago, Senator Obama gave an interview to CBN’s David Brody where he suggested just the opposite.

Senator Obama: “I think the South Carolina voters will have to make an assessment in terms of how seriously she's taking the state. She said last night that Bill Clinton wasn't the one running for President, but this is the next primary and he's the one who's staying behind." [Obama interview, David Brody, 1/22/08]

So does the Obama campaign think we are giving up on South Carolina or going all out for it? I guess it depends on the day.

The truth is that Clinton wants to finish second -- preferably a strong second -- and wants whatever wounds were opened in South Carolina to heal quickly.