Latest News 03-12-2022 01:06 8 Views

Biden’s push for early South Carolina primary seen as reward for Clyburn’s loyalty

President Biden on Thursday urged the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to move his party’s first primary election to South Carolina, a move political consultants from both parties say is a favor to Biden's longtime ally and friend, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

Biden justified his request to the DNC by asserting that switching the first primary state from Iowa to South Carolina would elevate a more diverse electorate in the influential primary elections. 

But it may also be nod to a state whose leaders got him elected. In his 2020 campaign, Biden struggled in the first three states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada before he won in South Carolina after Clyburn endorsed him.

Brad Bannon, a Democratic political strategist, said Biden’s decision is a clear benefit to his party and voters and may well be an effort to return a favor to Clyburn.

'I suspect it is a recognition of Clyburn’s contribution to his campaign,' Bannon told Fox News Digital. 'It suggests that the president intends to run for re-election, and it’s a very good idea. It adds diversity to the primary race and is a good way to recognize the importance of African American voters to the Democratic Party.'

Brendan Steinhauser, a consultant for GOP campaigns, said the primary suggestion is the latest example of Biden returning a favor to Clyburn. He noted the president kept his promise to the congressman to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, an assertion he said appeared to be 'quid pro quo' for the endorsement.

'I was thinking right away that this is about Jim Clyburn helping make him the Democratic nominee,' Steinhauser told Fox News Digital. 'Without a doubt that is what this is about.'

Andrew Bates, deputy press secretary for the White House, told Fox News Digital the president’s relationship with Clyburn was not a factor in his suggestion to the DNC.

Clyburn told NBC he was not involved in the president's decision.

Biden made the recommendation to the DNC in a letter that details an unprecedented change in the state primary order to South Carolina, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada, then Georgia and Michigan. Iowa, which has served as the first state and botched its counting efforts in the 2020 Democratic primary, has no early date in Biden’s plan.

State legislatures would still have to move their official voting date, which would in some instances require bipartisan support. Democratic and Republican leaders in New Hampshire declared they will not move back their voting date as Biden asked.

Joe Trippi, who has worked for several Democratic presidential campaigns, said it is possible, but unlikely, that Biden’s decision was meant as a favor to Clyburn. What is certain, he said, is that the president will run for re-election.

'I was surprised that he would weigh in at all,' Trippi told Fox News Digital of the president’s letter to the DNC. 'And I think his weighing in is a clear sign he’s running.'

Kevin Walling, a former Biden campaign surrogate, said Biden’s letter to the DNC was simply a commonsense decision.

'Moving South Carolina to the head of the primary pack just makes plain sense in terms of making the process more representative of the Democratic base,' Walling told Fox News Digital. 'I believe the president is pushing this change because it’s in the best long-term interests for the party, but it certainly doesn’t hurt should he seek re-election in 2024.'

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