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Obama's wife, Clinton's daughter attend same black church service

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Obama's wife, Clinton's daughter attend same black church service

Chelsea Clinton, center, daughter of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former President Bill Clinton, holds hands with Vernon Jordan, left, and Jannie R. Jackson, right, while attending Bible Way Church of Atlas Road in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Anyone looking to gauge the importance of blacks in the Democratic presidential primary next weekend only needed to visit one church service Sunday morning.

Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton were tucked among the hundreds of congregants at Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, clapping in unison with the choir during a more than two-hour gathering.

Delivering the sermon was the church's pastor, Darrell Jackson, who's also a state senator and paid consultant for Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. Listening on while sitting beside Michelle Obama was church member Anton Gunn, South Carolina political director for Barack Obama.

Blacks comprised nearly half of Democratic primary voters here in 2004 and they're being heavily wooed by candidates this season. Democrats head to the polls on Saturday.

Neither Chelsea Clinton nor Michelle Obama spoke during the service, but both were applauded when they were introduced from the pulpit.

If the barometer of support for the mother and husband they respectively represent could be measured by that attention, then the senator from New York seems to have an edge among Bible Way congregants.

Afterward, both women got hugs, signed autographs and shook hands with people waiting in long lines.

"I think it's good for them to come out and show the church support," said Jeffrey Watkins, who declined say which candidate he as voting for. He met Michelle Obama after the service. "I think she's a nice lady," he said.

Church member Franklin Mims said he was thinking about voting for Clinton. "Bill's been such a good president and I think that Hillary could do the same thing," he said, referring to Hillary Clinton's husband, the former president.

Cheryl Patton said she was looking more closely at Obama, a senator from Illinois.

"I just like what he stands for and I think he's going to make a big difference," Patton said after the service.

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