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Biden courts independent voters in S.C.

BIDEN 2008
Presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., speaks during a town hall meeting about Iraq Sunday, March 4, 2007, at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C.Mary Ann Chastain / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sen. Joe Biden told South Carolina audiences on Sunday he expects to spend a lot of time campaigning in the state because the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination essentially will be determined by the first Southern primary.

"I think it's going to be over after South Carolina," Biden said. "I'm going to be spending a lot of time here."

That includes spending time courting independents in a state where voters don't register by party. "If the Democratic nominee cannot attract independents, Democrats cannot win," said Biden.

The Iraq factor
Stumping in the state's rural heartland, the senator from Delaware said Iraq remains the key issue.

"Iraq is sort of that boulder in the road that you have to move before you can get to the rest of the issues," Biden told a group at Coker College in Hartsville.

Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has advocated a plan to split Iraq into three regions controlled by Shia, Sunni and Kurdish interests.

Biden said he has more depth on foreign policy issues than other candidates, but would not put down any candidate in his own party.

In fact, he joked that he also may avoid trying to compliment his fellow Democrats.

Biden was criticized just days after getting into the race when he described Obama as the first mainstream black presidential candidate "who is articulate and bright and clean."

At a stop in Bennettsville, Biden called attention to that misstep after he was introduced as being "articulate."

"I'd highly recommend that your chairman start using the word eloquent instead of articulate," Biden joked, adding that his comments about Obama would be "the last time that I'm going to compliment anybody."