The Democratic presidential nomination race shifted to South Carolina on Saturday, with Hillary Clinton banking on the black vote to beat Bernie Sanders and gain momentum ahead of the multi-state “Super Tuesday” contests next week.
But in a blow to Clinton on the eve of the vote, Sanders picked up the endorsement of former labour secretary Robert Reich—who served under president Bill Clinton.
“I have the deepest respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, and if she wins the Democratic primary I’ll work my heart out to help her become president,” Reich said in a statement.
“But I believe Bernie Sanders is the agent of change this nation so desperately needs.”
Clinton leads in the delegate count at this early stage, winning two of the first three nomination contests—in Iowa, narrowly, and then in Nevada.
And in South Carolina, where a little more than half (55 percent) of voters in the 2008 Democratic primary were African American, Clinton is favored to win.
Team Clinton—former president Bill, daughter Chelsea and Hillary—campaigned heavily on Friday at churches, coffee shops and universities to ensure a victory. “She’s battle-tested and can beat the Republicans in November. That’s important to the question of electability,” Chelsea Clinton told students at the College of Charleston.
She acknowledged Democrats probably won’t take back the House of Representatives, “so we have to have a president who knows when to stand your ground, but also knows how to find common ground.” The candidate, meanwhile, shared a light moment with bridegroom Joe Schreck and his 10 groomsmen at a Charleston cafe, where they had just ordered a round of Bloody Marys.
“I love having men at my feet,” Clinton joked as they posed for a group photo, a few of the men kneeling around her.
Some Clinton supporters say Senator Sanders, a transplanted New Yorker and self-declared democratic socialist who now represents Vermont, is little known in the south.
“He hasn’t been in the eye of the public as long as Hillary has,” said health insurance worker Olivia Brown, 26.
Her mother, 57-year-old science teacher Sharon Williams, added that Clinton is a “household name.”
“She doesn’t give up. She has a very strong fighting spirit. She’s able to always pull along, to find another way to come back and restart her goals.”
Clinton, 68, once the clear-cut favorite, now seems at times to be sputtering against the upstart Sanders.
In South Carolina, her campaign is hammering the message that she is the only candidate who can break down barriers still preventing minorities from getting ahead.