COLUMBIA, S.C. -- President Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton buttressed their Southern momentum Saturday with decisive victories in the South Carolina primaries.
Clinton won nearly two-thirds of the vote, far ahead of former Sen. Paul Tsongas, who managed 16 percent, and an uncommitted slate that garnered a few thousand votes.
Patrick Buchanan and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader making his first ballot appearance, denied Bush one-third of the vote in the state as they collected about 32 percent of the vote.
At stake in South Carolina are 43 Democratic and 36 Republican delegates to the parties' national conventions, where presidential candidates will be nominated this summer.
Although comfortably ahead in South Carolina, which he handily carried in 1989, Bush hedged his bets with a second campaign appearance on Thursday, two days before the primary, to shore up his support.
Bush, who attended the Republican Leadership Conference in Charleston, has broad-based support from the party's mainstream as well as backing from influential Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell, who is Bush's southern campaign manager, and Sen. Strom Thurmond.
Earl Black, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina, had predicted Bush would win his strongest majority against Buchanan, based on Campbell's political organization and skill in getting out the vote for presidential candidates.
Campbell and Thurmond both stumped for Bush. Campbell brushed aside criticism from some county GOP chairman that he was pushing Republicans too hard on behalf of the Bush ticket.
Duke was not on the ticket in Georgia, where Bush won with 64 percent. Buchanan ran second in Georgia with 36 percent, not enough to win but sufficient to keep his candidacy alive.
'South Carolina is the strongest Bush state in the South, we know that,' Buchanan told a private Christian school audience in Florence Tuesday as he continued to appeal for the Christian conservative vote.
The Bush campaign warmed to the Christian right as Vice President Dan Quayle addressed students and faculty members at fundamentalist Bob Jones University in Greenville last week. Buchanan also appeared at the school four days later and got an equally warm reception when he bashed the Bush administration policies.
Duke, an unknown quantity, made less splashy appearances with a small rally in North Charleston and a swing to the state's urbanized areas of Anderson, Spartanburg and Rock Hill just before the primary. He also ran a 30-minute television ad in late February.
At an appearance at Francis Marion College in Florence, Duke was booed by black and white students who also waved anti-Duke signs and heckled the candidate. A poll showed Duke was expected to net only 2 percent of the vote.
Clinton, who won his first primary victory in Georgia with 58 percent of the vote, is regarded as the front-runner in South Carolina, where he has a statewide organization and support from former Gov. Dick Riley, a Columbia lawyer who was close to former President Jimmy Carter.
State Democratic Party Chairman Albert McAlister said a strong showing by Clinton would set the Arkansas governor up do to well in the Super Tuesday primaries.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, politicked with South Carolina native Jesse Jackson, courting black Democratic voters who can be pivotal in state elections. Harkin also played on environmental issues but was not regarded as a threat to Clinton.
Tsongas, the former Massachusetts senator, also tried to make a race out of it as he sought to capitalize on his Maryland primary victory and his second-place finish in Georgia.