The first Hillary Clinton ad targeting South Carolina Democrats continues not just her attempts to link her candidacy to the achievements of the Obama administration, but also makes a direct appeal to the predominately black voter base which will be participating in the primary.
In order to make her case, Clinton has deployed one of the top guns from the Obama White House: the nation’s first black Attorney General, Eric Holder. In a 25-second ad entitled “25 Years,” Holder touts his long professional relationship with Clinton and her commitment to protecting voting rights, enacting gun control and addressing police brutality, issues of significance for many voters of color.
“If you want to make sure Republicans don’t take us backward, help Hillary move us forward,” Holder says direct to camera at the end of the ad. Holder, who served under the president from 2009 to 2015, endorsed Clinton’s candidacy in January, calling her the best candidate positioned to “protect the Obama legacy.” He also appeared last month in a radio ad for Clinton that accuses Republicans of attempting to “roll back the clock on civil rights.”
Meanwhile, Clinton has made preserving and expanding upon the Obama agenda one of the central tenants of her 2016 candidacy. That message may not have fully resonated in Iowa, where Sen. Bernie Sanders battled her to what amounts to a draw. And it may also not hold traction in New Hampshire, where her opponent is practically a favorite son. But in South Carolina, the Democratic primary voting population is overwhelmingly black, and the president still enjoys sky-high approval ratings with that constituency.
Should Clinton enter the South Carolina primary on February 27 without a significant victory in the 2016 race, her candidacy could be at a crossroads. South Carolina has long been viewed as her early firewall, and she currently has a nearly 30-point lead over Sanders in the state, where then-Sen. Barack Obama infamously defeated her in 2008.
Following that contentious primary race, former president Bill Clinton caused considerable controversy, particularly within the black community, when he compared Obama’s triumph there to the previous victories by African-American presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1980s. Since then, the Clintons have taken great pains to reaffirm their historically strong relationship with the black community.
This first campaign salvo in South Carolina, suggests that Clinton is banking on an improved relationship with black voters, which have proven a stubborn bloc for Sanders to win over.