Clinton Loses to Obama in S.C., Moves On

Sen. Hillary Clinton has come in second South Carolina's Democratic primary. Clinton bought a great deal of ad time in South Carolina, but she also campaigned elsewhere, and her aides have said the state is not a high priority.

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

We go now to NPR's David Greene, who's been traveling with Hillary Clinton in South Carolina today.

David, where are you and where is Senator Clinton now?

DAVID GREENE: Well, Andrea, I am at a bar called the Element Nightlife in downtown Columbia. And this is a place where Hillary Clinton's supporters have gathered. There aren't many; maybe a couple of dozen or so. And it's pretty quiet here. There are, you know, red, white and blue balloons up and a lot of Hillary Clinton posters, but no music playing. And people are just sort of watching CNN and the coverage of Obama's victory.

And I was speaking with one campaign staffer from Florence, South Carolina, who was a little disappointed that there was no showing by the candidates here. Hillary Clinton was at a hotel up the street, and there was some expectation among the people here at she might stop by and give a few thank yous, but she has moved on. And she's still on the ground in South Carolina, but is getting a flight and on her way to one of the February 5th states, the state of Tennessee. She's doing an event there later tonight.

SEABROOK: David, if there's any surprise tonight, it is that Senator Clinton is in a - looks like a death heat with John Edwards for the second place here, at least. You know, they're polling neck and neck in the polls now. Should we expect to hear anything from Senator Clinton tonight, and where will she be?

GREENE: We'll have to see. I think she's trying to move the story forward to a February 5th state both physically since she's going there tonight, and that might be where we hear her talk about South Carolina. She does - but her campaign is playing the expectations game, saying that they thought Obama would probably win South Carolina. Also trying to move the story forward and talk about the next state, including Florida, a place where the campaigns had all agreed not to do campaigning, you know, because the party punished Florida for moving up its primary. But nevertheless Hillary Clinton's campaign is saying that is the next state where voters will be going to the polls.

So, I think, we're going to be getting into a big dispute between Hillary Clinton in trying to put this story in Florida over the next couple of days for their Tuesday primary. And that the other candidates saying, hey, we made a deal, we're not going to be campaigning in that state.

RON ELVING: Hey, David, this is Ron. Before we go into that debate and move on into the future, let's keep it just for a moment on these results here in South Carolina. There's been a lot of debate all week about just how much of an investment the Clinton campaign was making in this state. They've said that it wasn't that crucial for her, but then they wound up spending more money on ads there than Barack Obama did. And she was there most of the week.

GREENE: Sort of playing it both ways. You know, they made a big deal out of the fact that she wasn't here the entire time, since she spent a couple of days outside South Carolina. But she was here a lot. She did a lot of events, a lot of advertising, as you said, Ron. And Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton both here, so it's hard to make the argument that Clinton campaign that you weren't paying attention to South Carolina. They poured a good deal of money in. They had a staff here. And I think they wanted to win.

ELVING: And Bill Clinton…

SEABROOK: Yeah.

ELVING: I think he was in the state a good part of the week.

GREENE: Quite a bit. We saw a lot of him.

SEABROOK: NPR's David Greene in Columbia, South Carolina.

Thanks very much.

GREENE: Thanks, Andrea.

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