Two key black political leaders in South Carolina who backed John Edwards in 2004 said Tuesday they are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
State Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson told The Associated Press they believe Clinton is the only Democrat who can win the presidency. Both said they had been courted by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama; Ford said Obama winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party.
“Then everybody else on the ballot is doomed,” Ford said. “Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he’s black and he’s at the top of the ticket — we’d lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything.”
“I’m a gambling man. I love Obama,” Ford said. “But I’m not going to kill myself.”
Ford said he was swayed by calls from former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton. He said she has solid support in Charleston, one of the key regions in the state with a significant black Democratic voting population.
Jackson, who also is the minister of a large church in the state’s capital city, said Edwards — a South Carolina native who won the state’s Democratic primary three years ago — had his chance.
“I feel as if he’s had his opportunity,” Jackson said.
The endorsements come just days before Obama and Clinton campaign in the state for the first time as 2008 candidates.
Support from black voters is key in South Carolina, where 49 percent of the Democratic presidential primary vote came from blacks in 2004. The state will host the first Southern primaries for both the GOP and Democrats in 2008.
Clinton’s campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said they were happy to have Ford and Jackson’s support.
“We’re grateful we’re starting to get the support of some key leaders,” Elleithee said.