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Rep. Jim Clyburn On The South Carolina Primary: Candidates Need 'Exposure To More Diversity'10:41
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House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks at the First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks at the First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

The South Carolina Democratic primary is on Saturday, and Democrats are hitting the campaign trail — and hitting it hard — with an eye on Super Tuesday.

Will Bernie Sanders all but lock down the nomination, or could the race break wide open as a more diverse range of Democratic voters weigh in?

To help us better understand this question, On Point's David Folkenflik spoke with House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who has represented South Carolina's 6th district in Congress since 1993.

South Carolina will be the fourth Democratic primary, after Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

But unlike New Hampshire and Iowa, Clyburn says the South Carolina primary will act as a better indicator of how people of diverse backgrounds will vote in the presidential election.

“This is the first time that the demographic of voters resembles what the voting diversity of Democrats will be in the fall." he told On Point's David Folkenflik. "... Our candidates needed to have exposure to more diversity. At least you will get some feel for how people with average backgrounds feel about our candidates."


Interview Highlights

On the diversity of the South Carolina primary

"South Carolina will be the fourth contest. You know, we've had Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa. But this is the first time that the demographic of voters resembles what the voting diversity of Democrats will be in the fall. We've made the case to the Rules Committee, the Democratic National Committee, that South Carolina should be in the so-called pre-primary window because our candidates needed to have exposure to more diversity. At least you will get some feel for how people with average backgrounds feel about our candidates. We've been losing elections in the past because Iowa is not reflective of what the state is all about. [Same with] New Hampshire.

"... Everybody says if a Democrat can't get African American votes, they can't win the general election. So why don't you have them exposing themselves to African Americans early on in the primary, before people get their minds made up or have this perceived momentum running for one of the other candidates? And you look for South Carolina to just follow along, rather than giving you a good test of what the candidates are all about. And that's why those of us feel that people like Joe Biden will give us a better candidate."

On his endorsement of Joe Biden 

"I always say that history ought to inform us. And when you look at the history of the candidates in the race, see where they have been on issues of importance to the Democratic voters, Joe Biden has the best record. Joe Biden is a Democrat. He's not a democratic socialist. He is not someone who is Republican until several weeks ago. He's a Democrat. He's always been a Democrat, elected to the United States Senate at the age of 29, that he has the background and the experience that we need in a candidate."

"It is one thing to talk the talk. It's something else to walk the walk. And Joe Biden has walked the walk. You go through his record and you've got to admit that he has the best Democratic record among those who are currently running. And so that's why my long history with him gave me the comfort level I needed to endorse him in this race."

Related:

Sydney Wertheim Freelance Producer
Sydney Wertheim is a freelance producer for On Point.

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Dorey Scheimer Twitter Associate Producer, On Point
Dorey Scheimer is an associate producer at On Point.

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