Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.

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Columbia, South Carolina (AP) Joe Biden does not have to worry about his chances in South Carolina’s Democratic primary next week. He has that locked up.

He also realizes he is unlikely to win the reliably Republican state in November. It has not voted for a Democrat since 1976.

He spent the weekend in the state, however, with the goal of conveying two messages: he is committed to the state that saved his campaign in 2020, and he is determined to re-engage Black people here and elsewhere who were critical to his election last time but are less enthusiastic this time around.

“You’re the reason I am president,” Biden told attendees at the state party’s fundraising event ahead of the “first-in-the-nation” Democratic primary on February 3. “You are the reason Kamala Harris is a historic Vice President. And you are the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former President. You are the reason Donald Trump is a failure. And you’re the reason we’ll win and beat him again.

Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.
Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.

Biden drew rapturous applause and chants of “four more years” from dinner attendees as he blasted his predecessor’s policies and highlighted his efforts to help Black Americans. He planned to attend a political gathering at St. John Baptist Church on Sunday in the state where politics and faith are inextricably linked.

Deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said of the primary that Biden’s team was attempting to “blow this out of the water” by outperforming longshot competitors. The Biden campaign also wants to understand how to mobilize Black voters, the party’s backbone, ahead of a potential 2024 rematch with GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Biden also underlined his willingness to take severe measures to reduce immigration on the US-Mexico border, as Congress continue to discuss reforming the country’s immigration policies, stating he would close the border “right now” if such a bill were passed.

Biden called border security “one of the most important issues we’re facing,” and said a “bipartisan bill” would give him “the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control,” as well as funding for more border security agents, immigration judges, and asylum officers. “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly,” he told reporters.

Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.
Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.

Saturday marked the first time Biden shared the stage with Rep. Dean Phillips, a longshot candidate for the Democratic nomination who urged the president, 81, to step aside so that a younger generation of leaders could take on Trump.

“The numbers do not say things are looking good,” Phillips said of Biden’s poll scores, trying at times to keep the crowd’s attention, many of whom were clutching Biden campaign signs in anticipation of the president’s presence.

“My invitation to President Biden is to pass the torch,” Phillips explained. Phillips, who was struggling to keep the crowd’s attention, many of whom were brandishing Biden campaign banners ahead of the president’s presence, repeatedly implored the audience to quiet down and listen to him.

He informed The Associated Press that he did not engage with Biden during the occasion, saying of Biden’s staff, “No.” I do not think they want him to see me.”

Ahead of the meal, Biden visited Regal Lounge Men’s Barber & Spa in Columbia, where he greeted the owners, employees, and customers while getting a haircut.

Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.
Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.

The president has received mixed reactions from certain Black people in the state that supported him in 2020, including dissatisfaction with his failure to deliver on voting rights legislation and other problems.

Last year, at the start of Biden’s reelection campaign, divergent opinions among the same South Carolina Democratic voters whose support had been so critical to his nomination presented an early warning sign of the obstacles he would confront as he seeks to rebuild his diverse winning coalition in 2020.

A December poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs found that only 50% of Black adults approved of Biden. That compares to 86% in July 2021, raising concerns about the president’s reelection prospects.

According to APVoteCast, a major nationwide electorate survey, support for Republican candidates increased marginally among Black voters during the 2022 midterm elections, despite the fact that Black voters still predominantly supported Democrats.

The Biden team is airing TV advertising in South Carolina emphasizing Biden initiatives that it expects would increase enthusiasm among Black voters.

“On his first day in office with a country in crisis, President Biden got to work — for us,” the press release adds. “Cutting Black child poverty in half, more money for Black entrepreneurs, millions of new good-paying jobs and he lowered the cost of prescription drugs.”

Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.
Biden comes to South Carolina to demonstrate his commitment to win back Black voters in 2024.

According to tracking data, the campaign would spend more than $270,000 on commercials throughout the primaries. The Democratic National Committee has began a six-figure ad campaign in South Carolina and Nevada, the next Democratic primary states, to improve Biden’s support among Black and Latino voters. Jill Biden, the first lady, was in the state on Friday evening to rally voters.

Biden’s campaign has also hired South Carolina personnel to organize for the primary and general election, despite the fact that the state has traditionally chosen a Republican for president.

Meanwhile, Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC, is releasing an ad in which Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina lists important Biden accomplishments such as reducing student loan debt and lowering insulin expenses for the elderly.

Clyburn’s 2020 endorsement of his long-time pal Biden helped the then-candidate record a thunderous victory in South Carolina’s presidential primary.

In the new advertisement, Clyburn mentions his late wife, Emily, who impacted his 2020 endorsement of Biden. She advised “that if we wanted to win the presidency, we better nominate Joe Biden,” according to Clyburn in the advertisement. “She was right then, and she’s still right today.”

Clyburn met Biden at the airport and accompanied him during his tour.

While Trump’s popularity has marginally improved among Black and Latino voters, Biden’s campaign is more concerned that a lack of passion for Biden will reduce turnout among people who are critical to the Democratic coalition.

Biden’s campaign is using South Carolina as a testing ground, seeing what ideas and programs resonate with people.

South Carolina, where Black voters make up the majority of the Democratic electorate, is now the first meaningful fight in the Democratic presidential race, following Biden’s request that the party alter its nomination calendar. Starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, the states have long faced criticism for being less diverse than the rest of the country.

“It’s important for us to show up and show out,” said Shivani Dahya, 22, a fellow with the state Democratic party from Rock Hill, when asked about the significance of Biden’s success among South Carolina’s non-white Democratic voters. “I think being first in the nation, we’ve set the example so other states can look at us and say, look at them, they’re voting, they’re getting out there, so let’s do the same.”

Moving up the South Carolina vote was also a political revenge to the state and Clyburn for their roles in bringing Biden to the White House.

Clyburn, who co-chaired Biden’s reelection campaign, has remained one of the president’s staunchest supporters in Congress and in his home state. He frequently reminds people of the same message he used in his 2020 endorsement: “We know Joe, and Joe knows us.”

Biden’s plan to campaign in the state “helps solidify South Carolina’s place as the first in the nation primary moving forward,” according to Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler.

It also allows Biden to re-engage with Black voters who have relationships that go far beyond South Carolina.

“Obviously the diaspora is strong, familial ties are strong with other key swing states in the area like Georgia and North Carolina,” Tyler went on to say.

This is Biden’s second visit to South Carolina this month. He spoke earlier this month from the pulpit of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where nine Black parishioners were murdered in 2015 by a white stranger whom they had welcomed to join their Bible study. In his speech, Biden condemned the “poison” of white supremacy in America, stating that such philosophy had no place in America, “not today, tomorrow, or ever.”

It was intended as a stark contrast to Trump, who Biden accused of “glorifying” rather than condemning political violence.

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