Hey everybody, David Brody here in South Carolina for a few more hours. Here's a blow by blow account of the primary as covered by my producer Robin Mazyck and myself. I spent the night at the Obama headquarters and Robin camped out at the Edwards campaign. Hillary Clinton was in Tennessee tonight when the returns came in.
Read below and tell us what you think. Comments? Email David or Robin.
9:40 p.m. - Robin
Well things are slowly winding down here at Edwards' headquarers. They've turned the music down and people are slowly filing out of the building. People are still milling around, heading to one of the other rooms to play pool or listen to the live band that's about to start playing.
Most of the reporters are sitting around waiting and waiting. They won't be able to leave until they finish filing their report in their respective 11 p.m. newscasts.
The one thing to take away from this tonight is that Edwards isn't going anywhere. He's revved up and ready to battle for more votes and delages on Super Duper Tuesday. And it looks like his supporters are ready to walk with him every step of the way.
That's it for now. I'm going to begin packing my equipment up, so I can leave. David and our photographer Jonah are on their way over here to get me. You've probably already read David's blog, so you know we're headed to the Sunshine State tomorrow.
When David gets here I'm going to usher him into the press filing area, so he can eat! They kept us well fed tonight. We feasted on baby back ribs, grilled chicken, sauted veggies, cheese pizza, meatballs, cheese and crackers and all the soda you could drink.
9:35 p.m. - David
Folks, I'm signing off from Obama central in Columbia, SC. Bottom line: Obama in a blowout. I think the real significance of tonight is this win gives the Obama campaign a compelling Feb. 5 message as they try and compete in 22 states. You could see Obama plant the seeds tonight. He's basically saying that SC and Iowa prove that he's a transformational candidate in that he can win in white and black states. He will take this evidence and apply it to his overall theme that he offers a new type of politics. He sounded very much like JFK tonight in his message and tone.
Robin and I leave for Florida bright and early Sunday morning. We'll be down there to cover the Republicans. I'll be on The 700 Club live Tuesday and Wednesday. Then Robin and I head to California to cover what are shaping up to be two critical debates.
Goodnight everybody. I never did get any food. I'm going to Wendy's. Eating after 10pm is not good but hey, I'm on the campaign trail.
9:38 p.m. - Robin
Edwards has finished his speech. The cheers in the room were so loud I couldn't hear how he ended it. Now the music is up full blast people are trying to make their way over to Edwrds to shake his hand.
9:36 p.m. - Robin
Edwards just began his speech. He joined Clinton in congratulating Obama on his win.
"Now the three of us move on to Feb. 5 and help shape the future of this party and the nation," he said.
"Our campaign has been about one central thing… to give voice to Americans who are not being heard. But their voices were heard today in south Carolina."
He also said, "If you don't have health care, your voice will be heard in this campaign. If you have lost your job and you're worried about finding another job, your voice will be heard in this campaign."
9:32 p.m. - Robin
Edwards has just arrived. He's shaking hands and greeting people as he walks up on stage. Everybody is clapping to the music, cheering and waving their Edwards signs in the air. It's really hard to believe he didn't win. Everyone is so enthusiastic.
9:27 p.m. - Robin
A man in the crowd just started shouting and briefly interrupted the person speaking on the stage. The person said, "If Edwards wants to win California, he needs to start addressing the needs of Latinos." People paused, looked at him and then everyone turned their attention back to the stage.
9:25 p.m. - David
Obama says the choice in this election is not about black vs. white. He says it is a choice between past and the future. And now he's going into a rift saying "Don't tell me change can't happen." Now the crowd is chanting "yes we can".he says, "Out of many we are one."
He is on fire. I've never seen him like this. I think he truly believes that because of his victory here in SC he can build a narrative to take to the nation that shows him as the transformative candidate.
9:24 p.m. - Robin
The local and state supporters are still on stage speaking. Meanwhile, Edwards' staff is preparing a path through Jillian's for the former senator to enter. I am sitting in front of the media risers next to aisle that has been cleared. We're only about five minutes away from his speech.
9:17 p.m. - Robin
Dave Boinor is telling the crowd that it takes 2,025 delegates to get the nomination. He's telling the crowd that the "more Edwards gets on the stage to debate Obama and Clinton the better off" Edwards is going to be in the long run.
9:17 p.m. - David
Obama says real leadership is about candor and judgement. But now he is really getting lofty about bringing whites and blacks together.about Republicans crossing over and how the youth of today is not apathetic.
9:13 p.m. - Robin
Dave Bonior, Edwards national campaign manager, just took to the stage. Everybody is chanting "Edwards, Edwards, Edwards!" Bonior is thanking everyone for their support.
9:11 p.m. - Robin
I know Obama received most of the African-American support in the state, but the event here at this campaign headquarters is very diverse. There are Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, women, men, young and old. I would say about 20 percent of the supporters are black, 10 percent are Asian and the rest are White.
9:10- p.m. - David
Obama is saying that South Carolina has proved that Iowa is no fluke. Talking about the race so far he says, "We have the most votes.the most delegates and the most diverse coalition."
9:07 p.m. - David
Barack Obama just came out on stage. The crowd is going nuts. He's on stage with wife Michelle. They are kissing which makes me think of Al Gore and Tipper! Don't go there. Wait.I just did. The people here are chanting "Yes we can."
9:06 p.m. - Robin
There's movement now on the stage that Edwards is expected to soon take. Some of the state and local officials who endorsed him are gathering.Obama is speaking right now, but no one can hear him because the music is still blaring.
8:51 p.m. - David
More exit poll information. Did Bill Clinton hurt Hillary here in SC? The exit poll information suggests the answer is yes. See below from CNN:
Roughly 6 in 10 South Carolina Democratic primary voters said Bill Clinton's campaigning was important in how they ultimately decided to vote, and of those voters, 48 percent went for Barack Obama while only 37 percent went for Hillary Clinton. Fourteen percent of those voters voted for John Edwards Meanwhile, the exit polls also indicate Obama easily beat Clinton among those voters who decided in the last three days - when news reports heavily covered the former president's heightened criticisms of Obama. Twenty percent of South Carolina Democrats made their decision in the last three days and 51 percent of them chose Obama, while only 21 percent picked Clinton.
8:43 p.m. - Robin
I just spoke with an official here at Edwards' headquarters and was told that Edwards will speak at 9:30 p.m. Of course when he does I'll have all the highlights for you.
8:37 p.m. - David
Some exit poll information. Obama won 4 out of every 5 votes from African Americans. That's a huge number. That number wasn't like that three months ago. Iowa changed everything. Look at the white vote. Obama finished third but did much better than some had expected. Some thought he might get as low as 10 percent. Nope.
8:43 p.m. - Robin
Not sure if you watch MTV or not but VJ Sway Calloway is here covering the election.
One of the populations being closesly watched in this contest was voter turnout among the youth. I wanted to get Sway's thoughts on how election 2008 was shaping up for younger generations and he said that what he's seeing is that the youth in this country are very, very passionate. More young people are registering to vote and are actually showing up at the polls. He said "he's never seen the youth so mobalized. They're very informed."
I asked him what seems to be the number one issue among the younger population and he said it's by far the environment, follwed by the war. Sway said he's found that students are concerned also about health care, education and even social security.
It doesn't matter who the candidate is he said. "Romney, Clinton, Obama, McCain," this young generation is involved.
8:27 p.m. - David
The people here are chaning, "We want change." The mood is wild. People are screaming, jumping and dancing. The crowd leans towards more African Americans, but still, there's a good mix here. And you know what? You just cannot say Obama is the black candidate. You can't. That's what makes his candidacy so special. He has a broad appeal. This victory in South Carolina tonight is a blowout.
8:20 p.m. - Robin
Bob Coble, the mayor of Columbia and I just finished a conversation about what happened here in South Carolina tonight.
Here's what he told me: "First we'd like to congratulate Sen. Obama. They're still counting delegates and we're very encouraged by the good turnout. Edwards has made a good showing despite the fact that he's basically competing between two celebraties if you will."
8:12 p.m. - Robin
You'd never be able to tell that Edwards didn't win South Carolina tonight. More and more people are streaming into Jillian's and the music has gotten louder. People are talking, laughing and having a good time.
8:10 p.m. - David
So what does this all mean? A quick little Brody File analysis.
First of all, it gets Obama some delegates and much needed momentum. Both are crucial. But it also allows the Obama campaign to build a narrative that he can bring the country together.
Can you see media consultant David Axelrod hard at work right now on the TV spot. Show white voters in Iowa, black voters in SC and play sweet syrupy music on how Obama is a a transformational candidate.
8:08 p.m. - Robin
There's word now that Edwards will speak sometime within the hour.
8:06 p.m. - David
Hillary Clinton has just issued a statement on Obama's victory. Read it below:
"I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me. We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th. In the days ahead, I'll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That's what this election is about. It's about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future."
7:51 p.m. - Robin
I just finished chatting with Dave Bonior, John Edwards senior policy advisor.
I asked him about tonight's results and he told me that it was still very early in the night and that they were looking at the delegate count. Right now only 4 percent of the precincts have reported.
Bonior said that Edwards is in this for the long haul.
"This is not a sprint. It's a marathon." He also said "they're marching on to the upcoming debate and Feb. 5." Going forward, they're going to do all they can to make sure "Edwards is seen in front of as many people as possible."
I asked Bonior about the bump Edwards received after last week's Democratic debate and Bonior said "when people get a chance to see him, they like him."
Bonior also congratulated Obama on his win tonight.
7:26 p.m. - David
So where does Obama focus his attention? You have more than 20 states coming up February 5. He can't be in every state. Robert Gibbs, his advisor, told me to expect Obama in places like delegate rich Illinois, Georgia and Alabama.
By the way, Obama is hanging out at the nearby Hampton Inn right now in Columbia. Earlier this afternoon he played basketball with a couple of campaign staffers. I know he's a huge hoops fan. In my interview this week, I asked him what kind of game he has. He told me he likes to shoot from the outside, but can take it down the lane if need be. Tonight was a slam dunk. A "facial" as they say in sports.
7:23 p.m. - David
Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, just told the assembled press that tonight's results show that South Carolina rejected the politics of the past. He also said this is going to be a very long race and now both sides are in a search for delegates.
In other words, it isn't about winning states so much anymore because remember, the Democratic party awards their delegates on a proportianal basis. So if Obama wins 60 percent of the vote, he would get 60 percent of the delegates.
7:22 p.m. - David
The talk here tonight among Obama's campaign advisors is that Obama has proven that he can win in diverse states. They say he won in predominately white Iowa and now in a state with more African-American voters. I'm told Obama will speak at 9 p.m.
7:19 p.m. - David
Just spoke with David Axelrod, one of Barack Obama's senior advisors. He called tonight's win, "a good old fashioned butt kicking."
Exit polls show that Obama got 25 percent of the white vote. Earlier, there were predictions that Obama might get 10 percent. The thinking going in tonight was if he got 20 percent that would be a real good figure.
He got more than that.
7:10 p.m. - Robin
Despite Obama's win, people here are in pretty good spirits. They're standing around munching on cheese, meatballs, chicken tenders. Chicago plays in the background. Right now, everyone is glued to the TVs waiting to see where Edwards will place.
7:01 p.m. - David
NBC News is projecting Barack Obama will win in South Carolina. That was quick and not necessarily a surprise. More coming.
6:59 p.m. - David
I just talked to some Obama staffers on deep background and they are hearing that the networks may call this thing for Obama at 7:01 p.m. right when the polls close. Hang tight.
6:57p.m. - Robin
There are four huge mascots walking around Jillian's. There's a polar bear, a man dressed like a USC gamecock, a monkey. And you know me - I had to find out why there're here.
They're promoting a new Xbox 360 and PS3 game called "Hail to the Chimp." It is a non partisan game based in the animal kingdom. The animals have to pick a new president based on a bunch of different characteristics displayed by each character.
Hail to the Chimp was created by Alex Seropian who also created the wildly popular game "Halo."
6:52 p.m. - David
This place is huge. We're not talking a small dinner party setting here. This place probably holds 5-10 thousand people. Yet with all the media set up in this hall, you'll probably be able to fit a few thousand.
Nobody is here yet. Just the media. People won't be let in until about 7:30 p.m. This experience is much different from other watch parties. Usually, the crowd is let in early enough to watch the election returns come in.
6:50 p.m. - Robin
Only 10 minutes left until the polls here in the state close. Word is that voter turnout was pretty high today. A few flurries were expected in the southern portion of the state, but here in the Midlands, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I just spoke with Edwards' South Carolina campaign director and she said she's very anxious and very excited, but that the wait is very hard.
6:48 p.m. - David
I'm now inside at the Obama event. I must say things seem totally disorganized here. Even some of the volunteers are mumbling to themselves about the mess here.
No AC power for media, no media credential lists , long lines to get in through security, etc. And no food. That's right. Not even peanuts.
I should stop complaining.
6:30 p.m. - Robin
I just finished a conversation with Kate Edwards - John Edwards' daughter. She told me that it has been kind of hard to compete with all the "glitz and glamour" of the other campaigns, but she says her father has been "well received at all the events" that he has attended here in the state.
In fact, she told me that last night she and her father held an event outside in Charleston. It was about 30 degrees, and despite the chilly temperatures, people came out to hear her dad speak.
Right now Edwards is staying with some friends here in the area. He plans to watch the returns there where Kate will join him. They will both come back to Jillians and talk with reporters.
6:10 p.m. - David
Ten minutes later now and I'm not moving much on this line to get in to the Obama event. I notice that there are a bunch of marching band members waiting to get in too.
Remember the marching band? They showed up at Obama's victory party in Iowa.
Because of Obama's solid poll numbers here, the mood here is one of anticipation and excitement. Privately, Obama folks feel like victory is for the taking but after what happened in New Hampshire nobody is counting on anything quite yet.
6:00 p.m. - Robin
David and I are at again. We'll spend the next few hours blogging on all the political action in South Carolina. I am at Sen. John Edwards' headquarters at the Jillian's in Columbia, S.C. David is about one block away from me covering Barack Obama.
If you've never been to Jillian's, let me tell you what it's like. It's a sports bar/restaurant/game room/dance club. Their slogan is "Eat, Drink, Play."
The Jillian's here in Columbia is located in this new trendy area of the city called the Vista. And it's a few blocks away from the University of South Carolina. When school is in session this place is packed.
At any rate, there are about three dozen media outlets here - many of them are from Edwards' home states of North Carolina and South Carolina. And of course the national media is here: NBC, NPR, etc.
Well, I've got to run. I've been promised an interview with Edwards' daughter Kate. I'll be back in a few with what she has to say about her dad, the election and more.
6:00 - David
Well.here I am at Obama central tonight in Columbia SC. I'd like to report that I'm inside on press row but actually I'm in a huge long line about to go through the security sweep. There are about 100 people in front of me. Hopefully I get in soon.
We were actually here more than an hour ago but at big events like this the secret service kicks everyone out and then does a big security sweep. It's a little frustrating but it is what it is.