Martin Luther King Day at Statehouse in Columbia

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the steps of the South Carolina statehouse with no Confederate flag flying overhead for the first time.

Facing fresh campaign anxieties, Hillary Clinton is attaching herself to President Barack Obama, hoping to overcome liberal enthusiasm for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders be fully embracing her one-time rival and boss.

Central to that strategy: shoring up her standing with African-American voters who helped make Obama the first black president and who could determine her fate if she falters in the first-to-vote contests of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The event was replete with Obama’s influence: as Clinton’s two main challengers marched to the capitol, hundreds of faithful chanted the president’s campaign mantra, “Fired Up. Ready to Go!”

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