ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, MONAHANS, Texas (CNN) – Life is good for Mayor David Cutbirth. The price of oil – the lifeblood of his West Texas city, population 7,000 - is skyrocketing.
The city of Monahans’ economy is booming now, but Cutbirth said he is worried. He has also lived through a bust, and would prefer the cost of oil to come down a little bit more. It is currently priced at over $90 a barrel. Just a few weeks ago, it reached $100.
“A growing concern out here is that energy costs would get too high, and we believe … those types of numbers will tip the economy into a recession,” he said this week during a stop by the CNN Election Express in this city. “So that has been our fear out here.”
Cutbirth said he is not sure what Congress and the White House can do to keep the price of oil within a profitable but reasonable range. But he added that Washington lawmakers need to put an emphasis on developing alternative energy sources.
“Congress and the president have started late on this thing,” Cutbirth said. “But that is what we need to do. We need to diversify the economy in terms of energy, and get away from oil.”
At some point, Cutbirth said he realizes the oil beds beneath his feet will run dry. He is working now to ensure his city is not overly-dependent on oil - which could make for hard times again in the future.
Cutbirth has a political philosophy that would seem unorthodox perhaps outside of West Texas. He votes for Democrats in local and state elections, but Republican in presidential contests.
“A lot of us think of ourselves as social Democrats and fiscal Republicans,” he said.
This year, though, Cutbirth said he is keeping all of his options open.
“If I think they are going to get in there, and they’ll do a good job for our country and make this country strong, then I am going to vote for them,” he said.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) - Even as Hillary Clinton congratulated Barack Obama on his victory Saturday in South Carolina, she was already directing attention to the states that lie ahead.
"Millions and millions of Americans are going to have the chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted," she told supporters at Tennessee State University.
"This a great victory for Barack Obama, but this is not the end of the Clinton campaign," said CNN Analyst and Donna Brazile. "Sen. Clinton has broad support out there."
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who has remained neutral in the Democratic race, predicted the campaign would not be settled until the August convention in Denver.
"They all have tickets to the convention - not all first class, but they all have tickets," he said.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Former Sen. John Edwards urged his supporters on
to the Super Tuesday contests following a third-place finish Saturday in his native state's Democratic primary.
"Now the three of us move on to February 5 where millions of Americans will cast their vote and help shape the future of this party and help shape the future of America," Edwards said in a short speech after finishing behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in South Carolina.
"Our campaign from the very beginning has been about one central thing, and that is to give voice to the millions of Americans who have absolutely no voice in this democracy."
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – In a historical shift, South Carolina Democrats turned out in record numbers on Saturday, besting last week's underwhelming Republican vote, which was hampered by bad weather.
In an overwhelmingly red state, that's no small feat.
The state Democratic party estimates that more than 530,000 Democrats turned out for Saturday's primary, as compared with 445,000 voters who showed up to vote last weekend, a marked drop from the Republican record high in 2000.
State party chair Carol Fowler said in a statement that the vote is a "remarkable occurrence."
"Democrats have three excellent candidates who have inspired voters all over South Carolina and our country," she said. "This is a huge rejection of the Republican Party at both the federal and state level."
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - At his South Carolina victory event Saturday night, Barack Obama described the 2008 campaign as a simple fight: "the past versus the future."
"We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party," he said. "And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got."
Obama said his blowout win should persuade the cynics who thought his victory in Iowa "was just an illusion" that they were wrong.
The Illinois senator's other message: race is not a factor. He told the excited crowd of about 2,000 that after the four early nominating contests, he has "the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long time."
"They are young and old; rich and poor," Obama said. "They are black and white; Latino and Asian."
He cited a woman who once worked for longtime South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond, a Republican who continued to support segregationist views until his death in 2003.
"[She] knocked on doors for this campaign," Obama said. "Don’t tell me we can’t change."
Speaking in stentorian tones lightened by a singsongy lilt reminiscent of a Baptist preacher, he said, "Yes we can change! Yes we can!"
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – In speeches and in TV ads and pretty much everywhere else, John Edwards has made sure South Carolina voters know he was born in the state.
His roots didn't help much across the state tonight - except in the county of his birth.
Edwards won Oconee County on Saturday, handily defeating Hillary Clinton and primary winner Barack Obama, who finished third there. Edwards was born in the Oconee town of Seneca.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Much has been written about the strength of Barack Obama's ground organization in South Carolina, largely driven by volunteers. Some observers considered it his best among the early-voting states.
It paid overwhelming dividends for Obama tonight in precincts across the state, some of which were largely ignored in the 2004 primary.
Take, for instance, the tiny town of Estill, located in Hampton County in the southern part of the state.
In the 2004 presidential primary, just 264 total votes were cast in Estill.
In this primary race, the Obama campaign made sure to send staff and volunteers to the town. Tonight, amid unprecedented Democratic turnout across the state, 575 votes were cast in Estill, with 459 of them going to Obama, 92 to Hillary Clinton and 24 to John Edwards.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - There’s a party going on in South Carolina’s capital city. In the streets surrounding the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, crowds of people are hooting and hollering. You’d think that the hometown team just won the big game - but what’s being celebrated is Barack Obama’s victory in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary.
Hundreds of Obama supporters are waiting in line to get into the convention center, where the senator from Illinois will give his victory speech later this evening. It’s a carnival atmosphere as they yell “fired up” and other Obama slogans.
Inside the convention center, the noise gets louder. Obama supporters are waving signs and placards and celebrating. CNN is on the big screens here and the crowd went wild when correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, who’s inside the hall on the press riser, appeared on-screen. When former President Clinton appeared on the same screen, speaking at a Missouri campaign event, some in the crowd began to boo.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
(CNN) - Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in South Carolina. But in the state’s Democratic primary Saturday, presidential contender Barack Obama has 294,799 votes, with 99 percent of precincts reporting - more than the top two finishers in last week’s GOP primary combined.
Last Saturday, winner John McCain pulled in 147,283 votes. Runner-up Mike Huckabee captured 132,440.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – During the last six months, each of the three Democratic frontrunners made campaign pilgrimages to a series of dilapidated schools along Interstate 95 that make up the so-called "Corridor of Shame."
That strip of run-down, rural schools gained national attention in a 2005 documentary that angered many South Carolinians, who saw the schools as a residual symbol of racial discrimination in rural parts of the state.
Though John Edwards and Hillary Clinton made those schools a focus of many speeches throughout their campaigns, Barack Obama won the counties that encompass them by wide margins.
Marlboro, Dillon, Clarendon, Florence and Darlington Counties all went big for Obama on Saturday.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby