Clyburn: Voters "Recoiled" From Use Of Race

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Speaking after Sen. Barack Obama's victory in South Carolina, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., all but credited the wide-margin of victory to a backlash against the injection of race in the primary by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Appearing on MSNBC, the third ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives said voters had "recoiled" to the proliferation of racial politics in the election.

"I'm not surprised at that at all," Clyburn said, when asked about Obama's big win. "Because I really believe that in the last 48 hours the voters recoiled. They decided to reject the racial animus they seemed to be developing and I'm so pleased."

Clyburn, who did not endorse a candidate, did not name names. But the implication was fairly obvious. Earlier in the week, Clyburn expressed a sense of disappointment with the Clinton campaign's tactics and urged Bill Clinton to "chill" with the race-based politicking. And in an interview with the Huffington Post, the congressman suggested that the former president's aggressive campaigning could be damaging his long-term reputation.

According to MSNBC exit polls from South Carolina, 74 percent of African-American voters and 68 percent of white voters say they believed that Clinton unfairly attacked Obama.

Later in his interview, Clyburn reverted back to his now-customary refereeing posture, complementing both candidates for being able to reach voters across the politics spectrum.

"I've checked on some of the white precincts and they are voting, in favorable numbers for Mr. Obama," he noted. "And I checked in rural precincts and I think Mrs. Clinton is doing a relatively well there... These people knew that the economy needed some kind of help. They knew that these candidates represent to them some kind of hope for the future. And they were voting their hope, their dreams, their aspirations, and they didn't care about all of the stuff that we were talking about for the last two or three days."