Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama sweeps “big time” in South Carolina

By Valencia Mohammed
AFRO Staff Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Illinois Sen. Barack Obama crushed political rivals in the first southern Democratic primary, giving his campaign a huge boost as he and his challengers head into “Super Tuesday” on February 5th, when 22 states hold primaries.

Obama won with 55 percent of the vote, compared to 27 percent for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and 18 percent for John Edwards, according to exit polls.

"….I did not see a Black or White South Carolina,” he said. “I saw South Carolina.”

Obama won about 80 percent of the Black vote and attracted about one of every four White voters, based on exit polls.

In a rousing victory party before hundreds Saturday night, Obama told supporters that campaign has attracted the most diverse group of voters.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Six days from South Carolina primary: Ministers energizing the vote –but for who, remains uncertain

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Sunday before South Carolina’s Democratic primary was an unusual chilly day here, but the messages from the pulpits were designed to fire up the audience to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice.

The Rev. Roanell Hough, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Columbia, told his congregation that “God has provided us good people male or female to represent the country.”

Now it was time for his members to meet their responsibility and to go out and vote during Saturday’s primary, Hough said.

“What more sacrifice could we ask of someone who dedicated their lives to social change so that we would become corporate executives, serve in the White House, run for elected office as a man or woman,” he asked. “We have another opportunity to live the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King.

“This country is going to rise on Saturday and change history.”

Obama in South Carolina: Wooing crucial Black women’s vote

By Monroe Anderson
Special to the AFRO

COLUMBIA, S.C.--After a bruising battle in the Nevada caucuses, with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton claiming a most-votes victory, but with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama still holding more delegates that his chief opponent, the two Democratic Party presidential front-runners now have their sights on one particular constituency in South Carolina: Black women.

That constituency was well represented as Obama began to campaign here in earnest Sunday night, just six days before the state’s Saturday primary, with a major rally before thousands at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

And if Brenda Lowery, Rhodessa Smith and Willie Mae Ferguson are any indication, which candidate will receive the lion’s share of that vote is anybody’s guess.

Lowery, Smith and Ferguson are three friends who are all members in good standing at Antioch Baptist Church here.

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Five days before primary - Columbia, S.C.:Michelle Obama stomps for her husband

Valencia Mohammed
AFRO Staff Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. – On the eve of the celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Michelle Obama told hundreds here that her husband, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, would live up to the civil rights leader’s legacy if elected president.

“If you give us your support on Jan. 26, Obama will emerge as a president who will live what Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders sacrificed for justice and equality for all,” she told the crowd gathered in the chapel at predominately-Black Benedict College.

“There is no other candidate who can boast of representing King’s sacrifice but my husband. I know, because I live in his dream everyday to make things better for all Americans.”

Barack Obama is the true candidate of change, she said.

“There is no other candidate who can boast of representing King’s sacrifice but my husband."

“We just didn’t start talking about becoming change agents for this campaign,” she told the crowd. “We have been change agents all of our lives. We don’t want our children to inherit the mess we are in now.”

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

For many, New Hampshire still a win

MANCHESTER, N.H.-- It was a miss, but a miss so close that many it doesn’t seem to matter.

Yes, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama lost to his chief rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton by a hair, a mere two percentage points.

But with a win in nearly all-White Iowa and an impressive showing in even Whiter New Hampshire, some see his loss as more of a win than anything else.

Consequently, when the January 26 Democratic primary in South Carolina rolls around, Beverly Rock will be in there doing just what she did in this week New Hampshire primary: supporting Barack Obama's bid to become the Democratic nominee for president.

"I'm already headed south to volunteer," said Rock, a 60-year-old grandmother from Dorchester, Mass., as she literally danced to Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," while leaving the Obama rally late Tuesday night in the gymnasium at Nashua South High School in Nashua, New Hampshire.

"I'm all fired up."

Rock had just finished listening to speech congratulating challenger Hillary Clinton on her 39 to 37 percent victory in the nation's first primary election. In his speech after the results came in late Tuesday night, the freshman Illinois senator temporarily altered his rally cry from “CHANGE” to "Yes We Can!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Early Voting: Obama already a winner in parts of New Hampshire

By Monroe Anderson
AFRO Staff Writer

NASHUA, N.H. -- Barack Obama was the undisputed winner in the earliest results of the New
Hampshire Democratic primary.

In a long-running tradition, two remote mountain tiny towns, Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, in the Granite state's northern region, casts their ballots at midnight. The polls are immediately closed then to tally the results.

Obama received seven votes in Dixville Notch, which has 74 residents. Meanwhile, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton didn’t receive any votes. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards got two votes and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson one, according to the Associated Press.

In Hart's Location, population 42, Obama received nine votes, Clinton three and Edwards one.
New Hampshire law allows towns of fewer than 100 residents to open polls after midnight so that their residents can cast the first votes of the first primary in the nation. The ballots can only be counted after all registered voters have participated.

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A trinket for the girls raises eyebrows

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Barack Obama, the Democratic frontrunner in the New Hampshire primary race, picked up more than just the promise of votes for Tuesday’s primary while campaigning here.

During a scheduled photo opportunity at Jack’s Coffee Shop, the Illinois senator stopped by the store next door, Vessels & Jewels, to buy his daughters, Malia, 9, and Natasha, 6, jeweled bracelets. Their daddy also bought a jeweled key ring, and then paid the $36 tab with a debit card.

As Stacy Smith, the manager of the shop, processed the purchase, the candidate asked if his debit card had gone through.

“It would be embarrassing if it didn’t,” Obama joked.

The charge cleared without incident and the junior senator left to shake hands and chat with the coffee patrons at Jack’s.

“He’s the first candidate to ever walk through our door to show interest in something other than the campaign,” Smith said.

“I’m glad he took the time,” added Kristin Burgess, the craftswoman who made the jewelry.

Burgess considered the idea that if Obama wins the presidency, her jewelry could end up in the White House.

“Now, that would be amazing,” she said.

Despite illness, Obama kept hectic pace on eve of vote

By Monroe Anderson
Special to the AFRO

Lebanon, N.H.--After a grueling three-day campaign schedule in New Hampshire, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got a late night visit from the doctor Sunday who examined a lingering sore throat.

The doctor was called in as a precaution to make sure there was no infection, according to Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman. There was none.

“The prescription was take a couple of days off and stop talking.,” said LaBolt. “Those are instructions we’ve already had to ignore.”

Although one poll released Monday morning had Obama leading former frontrunner Hillary Clinton by 13 points and another had him beating the former First Lady by 10 points, the freshman senator from Illinois was sticking to his grueling schedule where the overflowing crowds of supporters have been growing larger from one event to the next.

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From Chicago and California, Obama volunteers flock in from out of state

By Monroe Anderson
Special to the AFRO

Manchester, N.H.—One thing noticeable about Barack Obama’s campaign is that there are volunteers and campaign workers from seemingly everywhere.

Volunteers from coast-to-coast have been pouring into the Granite State because they say they believe in Obama. While Ron Cherlin, the press secretary for the New Hampshire Obama campaign, has no idea of how many out-of-staters have shown up to volunteer their help, he said he knows “there’s a ton of interest.”

With New Hamphsire’s key primary vote less than 24 hours away, some 2,000 volunteers from New Hampshire are working for the Obama campaign, and the campaign is drawing others from other East Coast states.

“Anybody within striking distance wants to be here,” Cherlin said.

Scott-Boria and Brian Brady of the Mikva Challenge of Chicago brought 60 minority high school students to New Hampshire to work would work as volunteers for the Obama campaign and the campaigns of seven other presidential candidates over a five-day period.

Scott Boria, a board member, and Brady, organization’s executive director said the idea is to expose the children of color to politics and much more.

“Many of these kids have never been on an airplane before,” Scott-Boria.

Brady said that involving students in political campaigns is as valuable as a civics lesson in a classroom. It also provides them with an important experience they otherwise would not have. Presidential campaigns are more often than not an old boys network.

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A victorious Obama sweeps into New Hampshire

Monroe Anderson
Special to the AFRO

PORTSMOUTH, N.H – Just hours after his unprecedented victory in the Iowa caucuses, a hoarse Barack Obama Friday addressed an enthusiastic rally of nearly 500 volunteers here who he hopes will help him make history again in New Hampshire.

"How's it going New Hampshire?" the freshman Illinois senator asked, his voice scratchy and strained. "My throat is still a little sore, but my spirits are high."

Sore throat or not, it was obvious that Obama's quest to become the nation's first African American president was alive and well as he arrived in New Hampshire. In an Iowa contest that virtually all polls and pundits said up until the final hours was too close to call, Obama blew away his rivals with 38 percent of the votes. Challengers former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton received 29 percent each.

A record number of young voters showed up at the Iowa caucuses in response to Obama's battle cry for change. In one caucus, more than 200 voters showed up as compared with only 85 four years earlier.

Obama landed in New Hampshire to campaign for the New England state's January 8 primary
election, continuing his call for change as the core for his campaign, with hope as its driving force.

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In nearly all-white state: Black New Hampshire volunteer rallies for Obama

Manchester, N.H. --Until last November, Mary Strassel couldn’t decide whose camp she’d be in for the fast-approaching Democratic party presidential nomination. She liked front-runner Hillary Clinton a lot. She also liked Clinton’s main contender, Barack Obama.

“I think I was flip-flopping,” Strassel said. “I actually went back and forth between Hillary and Obama.”

Back and forth yes, but she said she was more back with Clinton than forth with Obama. For Strassel, a transplanted Black Chicagoan, gender was sort of trumping race as a factor in her decision. The possibility of the first woman president had its appeal. “Obama’s being Black wasn’t my deciding factor, she said.

Then one night, the equivocating ended.

“The defining moment was when I watched him speak,” said Strassel, a mechanical engineer, who admits to not having followed the campaign very closely until then. “I decided not only am I going to vote for him, I’m going to work for him.’”

And volunteer work for Obama is just what the 41-year-old manufacturing engineer has done.

While the downside is marching through the New England cold to knock on scores of doors, there have been benefits. Strassel, along with 8,500 others in the area, attended the Obama rally with Oprah. She said she also got to meet Michelle Obama, the candidate’s wife.

With the Iowa caucuses now over, the nation’s attention turns to Strassel and others in New Hampshire to see how the candidates will do in this New England state. And with that in mind, the Obama campaign is ramping up here.

The night before the Iowa caucuses, Strassel, with her daughter, Marinne, joined 20 or so other Manchester volunteers at the home of Terry and Caroline Wiggins, to map out how they’d make phone calls to potential voters in the 10th and 11th wards for next Tuesday’s election here.

The volunteers are among nearly 1000 that the Obama campaign claims it has working on its behalf in New Hampshire. One said he had come from Miami to volunteer. He said he’d tried to go to Iowa to work for the primary there but that the Obama campaign had so many volunteers that they were turning people away. So, he, like Strassell, was braving the bitter cold New Hampshire winter to get out the vote.

He was playing H-O-R-S-E

NASHAU, N.H. -- No sooner than we were off the bus and out of the cold, we were ushered into an empty gymnasium at Nashua North High School, home of the Titans, where we had to line up our bags, cameras and recording equipment against a wall. As the other journalists and I from the Obama campaign’s two traveling press buses watched, a bomb sniffing dog gave our possessions the twice over.

To no one’s surprise, no explosives were found.

In the meantime, while we were once again (yes, all our possessions got the doggy sniff-over yesterday before a big rally) on the suspect-end of a terrorist check, 2,500 or so politically-active residents of the Granite State marched into the gymnasium unchecked and apparently without suspicion.

For the most part, the crowd was mad about Obama. When our two buses pulled up to the high school, the good citizens of New Hampshire were already waiting in two long lines with two-feet of continuous mounds of shoveled snow on each side.

Fortunately, the temperature had risen from the single digit the day before to the low 20s. They didn’t seem to notice the cold.

Inside the gymnasium, the crowd sat on risers just as they would to watch the Titans play a little basketball.

It was standing room only with hundreds of others waiting outside to get in. The empty gym, the one where the doggie detectors had checked our bags, was called into duty to shelter the overflow.

Many held the Obama campaign’s “CHANGE” placards, ready to flash them on cue or whenever the spirit hit.

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