COLUMBIA, S.C. – The remaining Democratic presidential candidates each want U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (search) to be his new best friend.
As South Carolina's only black congressman, Clyburn could help galvanize support among black voters, who may make up much of the state's primary on Feb. 3.
"I do not have an organization. What I have, and I feel very proud of, is the ability to network," Clyburn said Wednesday.
The six-term congressman said it was easy to endorse Dick Gephardt (search) because of his loyalty to his longtime colleague. But now that Gephardt has withdrawn from the race, Clyburn is less certain about which of the remaining candidates to support.
"I can support any one of these people as enthusiastically as I can the other," Clyburn said.
All of the candidates have been in touch with Clyburn this week, he said.
Clyburn said he was looking for a candidate with strong ideas about job loss, health care and personal security.
"I just believe we ought to be able to run campaigns without acrimony," Clyburn said. "They ought to be able to have discussions without getting angry and I really believe we do need to have a candidate who can really connect with people."
Clyburn said he would consult his family and friends about another possible endorsement.
His cousin, state Rep. Bill Clyburn (search), already works for North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' campaign. And Gephardt's state political director, Ike Williams, who is a longtime Clyburn strategist, joined Edwards' campaign Wednesday as a consultant.
Williams said Edwards addresses the needs of labor groups, the job losses in the manufacturing and textile industry and has sensitivity for the struggling class of people.
"There's a natural area of commonality in the campaigns," Williams said. And "he's basically a home grown product."
Jim Clyburn said he does not expect to make his decision until after the New Hampshire primary.
"I don't know of anybody who thinks less of me today simply because Dick Gephardt didn't do well in Iowa," he said. "I might have lost some influence if he had gotten wiped out in South Carolina, but we'll never know, will we?"