STEPHANOPOULOS: And more voters, I think, voted for you last night than voted in the entire Democratic Party in 2004. Before the votes were finally counted yesterday, President Clinton was asked why it was taking both Clintons to handle you in South Carolina. Here's how he responded to our David Wright.
B. CLINTON: Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign, and Senator Obama's run a good campaign here. He's run a good campaign everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The implication there is pretty clear: You're the Jesse Jackson of 2008.
OBAMA: Well, you know, Jesse Jackson ran historic races in 1984 and 1988, and there's no doubt that that set a precedent for African Americans running for the highest office in the land. But, you know, that was 20 years ago, George.
And I think that what we saw in this election was a shift in
South Carolina that I think speaks extraordinarily well, not just for folks in the South, but all across the country. I think people want change. I think they want to get beyond some of the racial politics that, you know, has been so dominant in the past.
We're very encouraged as we go to the February 5th states.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think President Clinton was engaging in racial politics there?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that that's his frame of reference was the Jesse Jackson races. That's when, you know, he was active and involved and watching what was going to take place in South Carolina. I think that a lot of South Carolinians looked at it through a different lens.
And certainly our campaign was confident that if we talked about the things that people are really trying to deal with on a day-to-day basis. If we were talking about how to make sure everybody has health care that they can afford, how people are going to be able to go to college, making sure that people are able to stay in their homes in the face of this subprime lending crisis and the larger credit crunch that we're seeing.
As long as we were focused on those issues, we thought those would transcend the sort of racial divisions that we've seen in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But several in the Clinton camp say that it was your campaign that was playing the race card throughout this primary.
They point to Dick Harpootlian, one of your major supporters in South Carolina, who said that the Clinton campaign was reminiscent of Lee Atwater.
They point to the comments of one of your top advisers, Steve Hildebrand, who said that the Clintons have always put people in a box. They look at everything through racial lines, gender lines, geographic lines. They tend to segment people. They say that it was your campaign playing the race card.
OBAMA: George, I'm not going to continue sort of the tit-for-tat. I think that the results yesterday spoke for themselves, that people wanted to move beyond some of these old arguments, and they want to look forward to figure out how we pull the country together and move forward, and that's what we're going to do during the remainder of this campaign.
Of course if anyone would know how the Clintons operate, it would be George Stephanopoulos. Loved the 'they tend to segment people' line about the Clintons. It's called identity politics George, and that's how the Clintons have always campaigned. Lee Atwater taught them nothing.
But Obama better be clear about one thing, he cannot afford to ignore or underestimate the Clintons. That is if he doesn't want to end up looking a lot like Beetle Bailey after Sarge was done with him at the end of this campaign.
This continued prodding of the race issue by the Clintons didn’t make sense to me. According to the polls they have the Primary pretty much won and didn’t need SC before and don’t need it now. Also, anyone who would hold the fact Obama is Black against him didn’t need Bill Clinton to point this stuff out to them, anyway. Obama never had their vote and I don’t think Clinton made much of a difference.
But it sort of finally makes a little more sense to me now. They are looking past the Primaries altogether.
Come November, Blacks will vote for whoever the Democrat nominee is, even if its Clinton. What the Clintons are doing is scoring points with to two groups, (a) racists and (b) people who hate race hustlers with Bill’s latest comments. BTW, I’m in no way equating those groups and have distaste for race hustlers myself. They are trying to build appeal across party lines for November, democrat racists, republican racists, independant ractist, ...
But, imagine if any of the Republican potential nominees reached out to either of those groups. A Republican would be torn apart for being critical of race hustlers let alone group (a). Only the Clintons could reach out to group (a) & (b) and get away with it.
Clinton’s only chance after all this if she wins the nomination is to choose Obama as Vice President. Then they’d repackage as a revolutionary ticket: a woman and a black, and redefine themselves as partners. I’m not sure if Obama would play along, but it would be tempting. Reverse the roles, however, and I doubt Obama would choose Clinton as VP. I’d expect him to choose Tom Daschle.