For all the sharp-elbowed campaigning he did for his wife in South Carolina, Bill Clinton couldn’t keep voters from abandoning her in the state’s Democratic presidential primary, according to exit polls.
Sen. Barack Obama’s win Saturday was the most one-sided drubbing the candidate from Illinois has delivered to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite several days of campaigning by the former president. Mr. Clinton played the role of aggressive attacker in a state with large numbers of blacks, with whom he long has been popular.
In exit polls of voters conducted for the Associated Press and television networks, almost six in 10 Democrats said Mr. Clinton’s campaigning played an important role in deciding their vote. Yet these voters still preferred Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton by 48 percent to 37 percent, with another 15 percent supporting former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
In other words, of voters who said Mr. Clinton affected their decision, nearly two of three didn’t choose his spouse.
Mrs. Clinton told CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday that her husband will continue participating in her campaign and acknowledged he might have gone too far in the last week of the campaign when he took Mr. Obama and the press to task.
“Maybe he got a little carried away. You know, that comes with a hard-fought election,” she said.
“My husband has such a great commitment to me and to my campaign. You know, he loves me just like, you know, husbands and wives get out there and work on each other’s behalf. I certainly did that for him for many years,” she said. “I know that in my own support of him going back some years, I sometimes got a little bit carried away.”
Since Mrs. Clinton lost by an overall 2-to-1 margin in South Carolina, she did better among people who said her husband’s campaigning affected their decision. But she still lost among that group, with numbers that seem to indicate a dismissal of the former president’s efforts.
The Clinton and Obama campaigns accused each other of fanning racial flames, and at one appearance Mr. Clinton said he had been told his wife would not win because the candidates were getting votes “because of their race or gender.” Mr. Obama won nearly eight in 10 black votes and about one-fourth of white votes. Blacks constituted 55 percent of the day’s overall vote.
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