Democrats Turn Focus to 'Super Tuesday'

All three Democratic candidates for president are back on the campaign trail after Sen. Barack Obama's big win in South Carolina. Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards hope to rebound on Feb. 5, when many states hold primaries.

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Senator Barack Obama is following Saturday's win in the South Carolina primary with a coveted endorsement. Senator Ted Kennedy is expected to endorse Obama at a rally today here in Washington. Kennedy's endorsement follows that of his niece Caroline, who backed the Illinois senator yesterday. Hillary Clinton's campaign was quick to note that some children of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy are backing her.

NPR's Ina Jaffe reports on how three leading Democrats are campaigning leading up to the big votes on February 5th.

INA JAFFE: Barack Obama began his Sunday morning at the Harvest Cathedral in Macon, Georgia. His sermon text was the story of the Good Samaritan from the book of Luke, though it sounded a lot like the message he preaches every day.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. And that our destinies are bound up together.

JAFFE: A central focus of Obama's campaign is his appeal to independent voters, and Georgia is one of the February 5th states that allows independents to participate in the primaries. They can vote in the Alabama primaries, too, so that's where Obama headed next, to the State University at Birmingham, where he looked out on a sea of 9,000 cheering faces.

Sen. OBAMA: Wow. Look at this crowd.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Sen. OBAMA: Look at this crowd.

JAFFE: Obama said his landslide in South Carolina was no fluke. He got 80 percent of the African-American vote. He also won overwhelmingly among young voters, though he was backed by just 25 percent of whites. All in all, he said, his victory proved the skeptics in the media were wrong.

Sen. OBAMA: We are going to write a new chapter in the South. We're going to write a new chapter in American history.

JAFFE: There is also a primary in Tennessee on February 5th, and after Hillary Clinton's defeat in South Carolina, that's where she went Sunday morning, beginning a new day at the Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): Oh, this is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

JAFFE: In a slightly less joyful gathering yesterday, Clinton met with reporters and told them she was heading to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and then to Florida, where the voters who haven't already mailed in ballots will go to the polls tomorrow.

It's a controversial move because she and all the other Democratic candidates signed a pledge not to campaign in Florida after it moved its primary up into January. As punishment for this, the national party has stripped Florida of all its delegates. But Clinton said she'll try to get that changed.

Sen. CLINTON: Florida will once again be a battleground state, and I want the voters in Florida to know that I hear them. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have already voted. So clearly they are taking this seriously. They believe their voices are going to be heard and should be counted, and I agree with them.

JAFFE: Technically, Clinton won't be campaigning in Florida. She's throwing a party for supporters on Tuesday night, when the polls have closed.

As for John Edwards, he probably isn't in a party mood. He finished third in South Carolina, his birth state, where he won the primary four years ago. On NPR's WEEKEND EDITION, he told Liane Hansen he still plans to campaign in a whole lot of places.

Mr. JOHN EDWARDS (Former Democratic Senator, North Carolina; Presidential Candidate): We're going to Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, California. I think we're going to Alabama. I mean, these are the places I can carry around in my head right now. We may go to other places, too. I'm sure we will. Listen, this is a long-term process.

JAFFE: Unless one of these candidates wins enough delegates on February 5th to make the eventual outcome all but certain.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

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