BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (AP) – Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said South Carolina voters should question Hillary Rodham Clinton's commitment to the state since she left in the run-up to the state's primary.
"After the debate, she flew out and she's been gone and she won't be back until I don't know — later in the week or until primary day," Edwards told a crowd of about 150 people in this small city on Wednesday. "What are the chances she's coming back when she's president of the United States?"
Clinton took part in Monday night's debate in Myrtle Beach and then left to campaign in states scheduled to hold contests Feb. 5, including California, New Mexico and New Jersey. She's expected back in South Carolina on Thursday, and her husband has been campaigning for her around the state this week.
Barack Obama also has been campaigning in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary.
Edwards is emphasizing his biography in an attempt to gain traction even as polls show him lagging both rivals. A South Carolina native and son of a mill worker, he stresses themes focused on the middle class and an economic plan that would bring help to family farmers, and jobs and broadband Internet connections to rural areas.
"I will not forget where I came from," Edwards told the crowd during one of three campaign events he held Wednesday alongside a bluegrass band. He said he's not a candidate who "thinks of Bennettsville as some place you fly over on the way from New York to Miami."
Edwards later stopped at an auto parts store in rural Patrick, asking people for their support. He reiterated his opposition to President Bush's economic stimulus package, saying "it leaves out too many people."
At his final stop of the day at Limestone College in Gaffney, Edwards urged his audience of about 600 people to ensure that people vote Saturday and to seek out anyone, even Republicans, who had not yet voted in the state's primaries. South Carolina residents can vote in either party primary, but not both. Republicans voted last Saturday.
"We can create a tidal wave of change," Edwards said.