Washington, Jan 27: Illinois Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic primary in the southeastern US state of South Carolina in a triangular contest, defeating former first lady Hillary Clinton. Obama pooled 55 per cent of the votes, followed by Hillary Clinton with 27 per cent and Edwards 18 per cent.
This is Edwards' home-state where he won only once. Obama's victory last night is significant, coming as it is, after his two consecutive losses in the northeastern state of New Hampshire and the southwestern state of Nevada. Obama, an African-American, had a strong lead among black voters in the state, but fell behind both the candidates among white voters. Black voters make up about half of the eligible Democratic primary voters in South Carolina and, as expected, there was a record turnout of voters.
This puts Obama, an African-American, at par with Hillary Clinton with victory in two states.
According to the New York Times, the defeat left the campaign of Senator Clinton facing a new set of questions. Her advisers' steady attacks on Obama appeared to prove fruitless, if not counterproductive, and the attack-dog role of former President Bill Clinton seemed to have backfired.
Presidential candidates are now preparing for February 5, known as Super Tuesday, when 22 of the 50 US states hold primary elections or party caucuses.
Meanwhile, the daughter of President John F Kennedy endorsed Obama's candidature, saying he could inspire Americans in the same way her father once did.
''I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them,''Caroline Kennedy wrote in an article posted last night on the newspaper's Web site ''But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president, not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans,'' she was quoted as saying.
Republican presidential candidates are preparing to face off in Florida Tuesday, January 29.