Biden Attempts to Sway Black Voters in South Carolina Away from Trump
President Biden spoke at a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner, aiming to energize black voters and emphasizing their crucial role in previous elections. Despite Biden’s efforts, there are concerns about his underperformance among black voters, particularly men, and the need to better communicate policy achievements and plans. The article also presents the perspective of former state representative Fletcher N. Smith Jr., who criticises Biden’s communications with local officials and the black community, arguing that more needs to be done than simply contrasting Biden with former President Trump.
In his first appearance related to the Democratic primaries, President Biden rallied his Black voter base, citing their role in defeating former president Donald Trump. The South Carolina Democratic Party dinner, where Biden spoke, signifies a crucial week for energizing a frustrated Black electorate nationally, particularly leading up to South Carolina’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3.
Biden’s allies argue the urgency for Democratic victories, considering Trump’s previous wins in Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Representative James E. Clyburn conveyed his concerns over Trump’s potential return to office and appealed to the Black electorate to “turn the election around.”
Recent polls indicate Biden’s underperformance among Black voters, especially males, in key states. The dinner event was disrupted twice by protests over civilian casualties in Gaza, reflecting discontent among younger voters about the recent Middle Eastern conflict.
While Biden has historically avoided mentioning Trump, he aggressively called out his predecessor during his speech, even taking a jab at his mental acuity. “You’re the reason Donald Trump is a loser,” Biden asserted, “and you’re the reason we’re going to win and beat him again.”
Biden is also encouraged to explicitly communicate his policy successes to Black voters who when electing him, hoped for meaningful change. Though South Carolina’s Democratic primary is expected to be uncompetitive, the Biden campaign has been steadily focusing on the state and its policies benefitting Black voters.
Fletcher N. Smith Jr., former state representative and a Biden supporter, argued that contrasting Biden with Trump alone won’t suffice to mobilize Black voters. He urged Biden’s team for more effective communication with local officials.
Before the dinner, Biden and Clyburn visited a local barbershop to converse with community members. They highlighted Biden’s policies benefiting Black Americans, such as investments in historically Black colleges, reducing Black unemployment and inflation, and capping insulin prices. However, despite these efforts, some local leaders fear these policies won’t be sufficient to meet voters’ expectations amid concerns on housing prices and restrictions on abortion and voting rights.
Biden has forgiven over $136 billion in student loans for nearly 3.7 million Americans and increased Pell grants benefiting Black undergraduates. Emphasizing these economic measures and portraying Trump as the alternative could help Biden regain Black voter support, suggests Representative Ro Khanna.
Nevertheless, some voters remain unconvinced and demand more actions towards increasing working-class salaries and preventing civilian deaths in Gaza. Some express frustration over the lack of better presidential candidates.
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