Clinton endorsed by 2 ex-South Carolina governors
Aug. 18, 2015
ATLANTA (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is getting endorsements from two former Democratic governors in the early-voting state of South Carolina, including one who helped lead President Barack Obama's first campaign.
The moves are part of Clinton's effort to build her organization in South Carolina and Iowa, two early-voting states where Obama defeated her on his way to the nomination in 2008.
Jim Hodges, who served as South Carolina's chief executive from 1999 to 2003, told The Associated Press that he will formally endorse Clinton on Wednesday in Columbia, South Carolina, alongside her current campaign chairman, John Podesta.
"We were on the other side, but I developed a hearty respect for Hillary Clinton both as campaigner and a public servant," said Hodges, who was national co-chairman for Obama's 2008 campaign.
Separately, Clinton's campaign announced an endorsement from Dick Riley, who served as secretary of education during President Bill Clinton's administration after serving as governor from 1979 to 1987.
Days ago at the Iowa State Fair, where presidential candidates gather to meet voters in the first caucus state, Clinton garnered the formal backing of former Sen. Tom Harkin. He remains a popular elder statesman in Iowa.
The high-profile endorsements demonstrate Clinton's strengths at a time when Vice President Joe Biden, who has several South Carolina loyalists, is considering whether to seek the 2016 nomination. Biden recently vacationed in the state, where he made calls to aides and supporters about the race.
Yet even if the announcements show Clinton's strength in comparison to Biden, they also highlight that she is anchored in the Democratic Party's old guard at the same time she faces a challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, who is running to Clinton's left by assailing the nation's political and economic establishment, makes his first extended South Carolina campaign trip this weekend.
Hodges acknowledged that Clinton must balance her establishment relationships with an appeal to disaffected voters.
"People are hurting," Hodges said. "Campaigns on the right and the left have had some appeal, but at the end of the day, I think that a campaign like Secretary Clinton's that's focused on the problems people face is a winning campaign."
The former governor said he has no long-term worries about the ongoing investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while she served as Obama's secretary of state.
"I'm confident that she's going to come through it fine," he said.
Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .