MANNING, S.C. – Sen. Barack Obama, trailing in the polls among black Democratic voters, whirled through South Carolina Friday to talk about civil rights and racial disparities, picking up the endorsement of the state's first black Supreme Court justice since Reconstruction along the way.
Ernest Finney, a former state Supreme Court chief justice endorsed Obama Friday, saying the Illinois senator's views on education helped him make up his mind.
Speaking at the Clarendon County Courthouse in Manning, S.C., where families first sued the state over unequal education opportunities for blacks and whites in South Carolina in the 1940s, Obama spoke confidently about his presidential candidacy.
"I'm not interested in second place. I'm not running to be vice president ... I'm running to be president of the United States of America," he said, mentioning his growing support in early-voting Iowa.
"We are tied up in Iowa right now and let me tell you there aren't a lot of folks in Iowa that look like me, and we're doing just fine," he said.
Obama spoke about racial disparities in education and in the court system, before heading off to two NAACP dinners in South Carolina to deliver similar addresses.
Obama has struggled to firm up support among black voters. A poll in mid-October showed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with a 57 to 33 percent lead over Obama among black registered Democrats.
In South Carolina, blacks comprise about half of the primary electorate and the candidates have been seeking their support.
Finney was enthusiastic in his endorsement Friday.
"My heart was dreaming of the day when a black man in America could not only run for president, but could be on the edge of winning," he said.
Finney was a successful civil rights attorney before he became one of the state's first black lawmakers. He was elected to the Supreme Court in 1984 and became chief justice 10 years later. He retired from the high court in 2000.
FOX News' Bonney Kapp and the Associated Press contributed to this report.