'Ready To Go': Illinois Senator Wins Primary 2-to-1 Over Clinton, Edwards, Brings Many New Voters Out For First Southern Primary

This story was written by Katie Jones, The Daily Gamecock
Sen. Barack Obama won the Democratic primary Saturday, leaving Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards far behind.

His victory was welcomed with thunderous applause and wild cheering from his supporters, which gathered at a rally at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Some had waited for over an hour outside for the chance to show their support for the Illinois senator.

Obama earned 55 percent of the votes, drastically surpassing Clinton with 27 percent and Edwards with 18 percent.

Around 8 p.m., Clinton released a concession statement.

"I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well," she said. "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."

Clinton was the only candidate not in the capital city Saturday night, instead opting to focus on Tennessee.

As Obama took the stage to give his victory speech, the crowd chanted, "Yes, we can!"

"Thank you, South Carolina," Obama said. "After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates and the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long, long time."

His speech was continuously interrupted from cheering and chanting from the crowd.

"We've got young people across the country who have never had a reason to participate until now," Obama said.

The "young people" made up a significant part of supporters who came out the Convention Center, many of whom are not of voting age. Many supporters drove hours to see Obama and to aid with his campaign.

Jared Countess, a 23-year-old from Baltimore, Md., came to Columbia on Tuesday and canvassed the area during his time here.

"I came because I believe he is the only one who means what comes out of his mouth," Countess said. "Today is the last day I have to show my love."

Twenty-year-old Pam Jessell drove from the University of Virginia with two of her friends because "this is history."

"He's going to unite the people of the world," she said.

The upcoming presidential election will be the first one Jessell is old enough to participate in.

"It's crazy to be a part of this," she said. "It's so exciting."

Obama finished his speech by tying it back to "Yes, we can."

"Where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words: Yes, we can," Obama said.

The fact that race was such a big issue in the election has angered some.

"I wish the pundits would stop pointing out if there is a high concentration of black people or white people," said Angela Warner of Charlotte. "He can cross all lines. I'm not talking about maps, I'm talking about race. He's about unity and hope, not about race."
© 2008 The Daily Gamecock via U-WIRE