Biden Returning to South Carolina to Address HBCU, Honor Clyburn | New policies


By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press

ORANGEBURG, SC (AP) – For House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, President Joe Biden’s trip to South Carolina on Friday is more than an ally visit to a crucial early-voting state. It’s a manifestation of the decades-long relationship between the two powerful Democrats, in a place that has played a central role in consolidating their two legacies.

Biden is speaking to the December graduates of South Carolina State University, a historically black school in Orangeburg. He’s the alma mater of Clyburn, the most senior black member of Congress and South Carolina’s only Congressional Democrat.

There were no ceremonies in December when Clyburn graduated in 1961, so he received his diploma by mail. Instead of addressing this year’s graduates as had been planned, Clyburn will walk with the students himself, crossing the stage to receive his diploma from Biden, who he has asked to appear in his place.

The president’s visit comes at a busy time for his agenda, as the future of his $ 2 trillion social and environmental spending program is uncertain. While Democrats hoped to make progress on the bill before Christmas, lingering disagreements between lawmakers virtually halted negotiations, and Biden himself signaled Democrats should focus on passing a bill. Voting rights law – another big issue in the equally divided Senate.

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Biden spent much of the week participating in those legislative negotiations, but said he was eager to help his longtime friend.

“I would almost walk all the way to South Carolina so I could do this for Jim,” Biden said this week in an interview with WLTX-TV in Colombia. “Jim has been a champion for all that matters.”

The two had planned a rally in South Carolina, Clyburn told reporters this week, and they thought the occasion would be enough. The meeting is important to both, as it is the first time Biden has served as president in South Carolina, where public support for Clyburn is credited with propelling him to the Democratic nomination.

Heading into the South Carolina’s first primary, after seeing less-than-stellar performances in other early voting contests, Biden got Clyburn’s public approval, an expected signal for many voters blacks that Biden would be the candidate to defend his interests.

“My buddy Jim Clyburn, you brought me back!” Biden said in his victory speech, after winning South Carolina by almost 30 percentage points, giving Clyburn credit for breathing new life into his campaign.

Biden then defeated chief rival Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday and claimed the nomination before defeating incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the general election.

On Wednesday, Clyburn said he was happy he played a part in Biden’s victory, but said the president deserved it.

“People can credit me for his resounding victory here in South Carolina, but he deserves it,” Clyburn said on a call with reporters. “I’m a good enough politician to take credit, but Joe Biden has a great relationship with this state. … He deserves a lot more credit from South Carolina than he’ll ever get, and I suspect that’s because he has a “D” behind his name. “

Biden’s roots in the state run much deeper than his 2020 campaign. Often coming to Kiawah Island near Charleston for family vacations, Biden also spent decades as an office colleague of Fritz Hollings, the Democratic Senator. longtime veteran from South Carolina. Biden praised Hollings at his 2019 funeral, a task he previously performed for fellow South Carolina senator, Republican Strom Thurmond.

During Wednesday’s call with reporters, Clyburn got emotional at times as he conveyed the seriousness of Friday’s combination of personal and professional accomplishments. As a politician, the ability to bring a sitting president to his home state shows voters his connection to Biden, with whom Clyburn said on Tuesday he has a “very special” relationship.

In addition, the state of South Carolina is also the alma mater of his late wife Emily, who gave the specialty college her name. Clyburn said he would welcome the opportunity to graduate not only from the president but accompanied by his three daughters and all of his grandchildren.

“I suspect the students will remember this for the rest of their lives,” Clyburn said of the event. “Not only will I be able to walk, but the President of the United States will give me my diploma. “

Meg Kinnard can be contacted at

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