Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina congressman whose endorsement was key to Joe Biden’s run to the White House three years ago, said he believes the US president deserves a second term, the latest sign that national Democrats are coming together. Around Biden’s re-election. campaign.
In an interview with the Financial Times this week, an influential member of the Democratic leadership dismissed concerns about the president’s age and said he saw no reason why Biden should not seek another four years in the White House. Biden has repeatedly indicated that he will run for a second term, but has not been able to officially launch his re-election campaign.
“I want him to run. . . I see no reason why he shouldn’t run,” Clyburn said. “And I really hope he has to run. I think he deserves a second term. I don’t think anyone could do a better job trying to get back on the field.”
Clyburn is credited with reviving Biden’s faltering 2020 presidential campaign, helping the former vice president win the South Carolina primary and then boosting the so-called Super Tuesday race by increasing African-American turnout.
Failing to secure Clyburn’s endorsement for a second term could have challenged Biden’s re-election bid. But the Democratic congressman, who is a trusted informal adviser to the president, said he fully supports Biden’s re-election bid.
“Maybe he still doesn’t. But you’ve got to keep building to that point,” Clyburn, 82, said, calling Biden “as decent a person as you can be.”
Clyburn made headlines shortly before last November’s midterm elections when he said at a campaign stop in North Carolina that would not be comments on Biden’s re-election prospects until the end of the midterms.
But this week, Clyburn Biden is credited with the Democratic Party’s strong showing in the election, where they defied expectations and did better than expected in several key races, retaining control of the US Senate after narrowly losing the House of Representatives.
Clyburn’s endorsement comes after Biden backed an overhaul of the Democratic primary schedule that will make South Carolina the nation’s first race, displacing New Hampshire and Iowa as critical battleground states.
Clyburn was adamant that he and Biden did not discuss the changes in advance. The Democratic National Committee has since endorsed the plan, sparking outrage among party activists in New Hampshire.
“He wanted South Carolina first. I wanted South Carolina to stay where it was,” Clyburn said, comparing the state to baseball’s “cleanup” hitter, traditionally the team’s strongest hitter, fourth in the batting order and relied on for runs. .
Asked why he thought Biden made the move, Clyburn said, “Because I think he’s going to run again.”
Clyburn spoke to the FT on the heels of his State of the Union address, in which Biden clashed with House Republicans and passionately defended his economic agenda. At several points in his speech, the president deviated from the script — something that Clyburn welcomed.
“I often tell the president that it’s one thing to give information. It’s something else that’s emotional,” Clyburn said. “I think he did.”
The congressman brushed aside concerns that Biden, 80, is too old to spend another four years in the White House. If re-elected, Biden would be the oldest president to take the oath of office in US history.
“We all age differently,” Clyburn said, noting that she is two years older than the president. “They said the same thing about him. . . Ronald Reagan. How many people said Ronald Reagan was too old? Remember the classic line in his debate with Walter Mondale?
In a 1984 presidential debate, Republican Reagan responded to a moderator’s question: “I’m not going to make age a campaign issue. I will not take advantage of my opponent’s youth and inexperience for political purposes.” Reagan ended up overwhelmingly defeating Mondale, his Democratic opponent, and won more Electoral College votes than any presidential candidate in US history.
Clyburn declined to comment on potential Republican challengers to Biden in 2024. So far, Donald Trump is the only Republican to officially enter the race. But several polls show Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leading Trump among likely Republican voters, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to kick off her campaign in Charleston next week.
Asked about Haley and Tim Scott, the Republican senator from South Carolina who has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, Clyburn paused for a few seconds before saying, “I don’t do Republican politics.”
But the congressman suggested that the primary calendar change would put Biden in a stronger position to face a potential challenge from a fellow Democrat, citing the example of Democratic President Lyndon B Johnson, who dropped out of his re-election bid in 1968. he nearly lost the New Hampshire primary to anti-war lawmaker Eugene McCarthy.
“Lyndon Johnson. . . he was creamed in New Hampshire and it derailed his presidency and he quit,” Clyburn said. “That’s not lost on Joe Biden, and it sure as hell isn’t lost on me.”
No Democrat has publicly recommended Biden for the party’s nomination. Asked if he thought Biden would face competition from within the party, Clyburn said, “No, I don’t think so.”
But he added a cautionary note, adding: “However, no one thought that anyone would challenge Lyndon Johnson. You can’t fly in the face of history.”