While the race is heating up in New Hampshire in anticipation of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation 2004 Democratic presidential primary, two leading candidates spent part of the day Wednesday trying to rev up crowds in South Carolina.
Sen. John Edwards (search), who finished a surprising second in Iowa on Monday, returned to the state of his birth to rally the crowds and promote his southern roots. Arkansas-born retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark (search) also headed to South Carolina to build up support ahead of the Feb. 3 primary.
South Carolina, with its 45 pledged delegates — the same number as Iowa — is sure to be a lengthy measuring stick in gauging the prospects for the eventual nominee, not only because of its geography, but because of its demography.
"South Carolina is the first test in the south. It's the first test of the African-American vote and it will be a key test for both John Edwards and Wesley Clark," said Bruce Reed, head of the Democratic Leadership Council (search).
Clark has campaigned in the South with former Atlanta mayor and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young and Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus who voiced his support for Clark at the beginning of his campaign. The two could play important roles in getting out the vote.
Another measure of potential success could be the ability to win the endorsement of South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn (search), who originally threw his support behind Dick Gephardt. Gephardt dropped out of the race on Wednesday. Clyburn has not said yet if he will make another endorsement.
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