COLUMBIA, S.C. – President Biden isn’t too concerned about winning Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina.
He’s expected to carry the contest in a landslide.
South Carolina, where Black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics, for the first time is leading off the party’s official presidential nominating calendar, thanks in large part to Biden.
And state Democratic Party chair Christale Spain told Fox News on the eve of the contest that “this primary is contested, but it isn’t competitive.”
But for Biden, there’s a bigger mission than just winning big in the Palmetto State primary.
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The president is aiming to solidify his support among Black voters in South Carolina and across the country. Those voters, who four years ago boosted Biden first to the Democratic nomination and ultimately into the White House, appear less energized in 2024.
The president’s approval ratings among Black voters, who are a crucial part of the Democratic Party base, have eroded over the past three years, which is a significant concern for his re-election chances.
And while Black voters overwhelmingly voted for Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans made gains.
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Former President Donald Trump, the commanding front-runner for this year’s Republican nomination, is making a play for Black and Hispanic voters.
Trump often points to endorsements from Black celebrities as a sign of his support in the Black community.
And Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a former 2024 GOP White House candidate and the only Black Republican in the Senate who endorsed Trump last month, has become top surrogate for the former president.
“Have you seen our poll numbers with African Americans and with Hispanic Americans? But I’m not that surprised because I see it, I feel it,” Trump argued as he campaigned in New Hampshire ahead of that state’s presidential primary.
While Trump suggested that “there is much more enthusiasm now” for him among minority voters, there’s little polling evidence to back up his claims.
But even a slight shift of voters from Biden to Trump – or the possibility of some Black voters frustrated with a lack of progress on key issues sitting out the 2024 election – could potentially make the difference in crucial battleground states like Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Black voters carried Biden to a landslide victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary four years ago, igniting his 2020 campaign.
The president, campaigning in South Carolina last weekend, thanked the largely Black audience at a state Democratic Party gathering for helping him win the White House, adding “you’re the reason Donald Trump is a loser.”
Looking ahead to his likely rematch with Trump in November, Biden told the crowd “you’re the reason we’re going to win and beat him again.”
In a sign of the importance of the Black vote, the president kicked off his reelection bid last month at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine Black parishioners were killed in a 2015 mass shooting.
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But some Democratic leaders have been raising concerns regarding the president’s underwhelming support among some Black voters.
Spain told Fox News the key is to get the message out.
“I do believe that it’s not enthusiasm, it’s information,” she said.
And Spain predicted support would solidify “once we share the information about how President Biden and the Democrats have been delivering on things.”
Vice President Harris, who made history as the nation’s first female and Black vice president, told the crowd at a get-out-the-vote rally at a historically Black university in Orangeburg on the eve of the primary that “South Carolina, you are the first primary in the nation and President Biden and I are counting on you.”
And pointing to Trump, Harris argued that “for years, the former president has stoked the fires of hate and bigotry and racism and xenophobia for his own power and political gain.”
“The former president has told us who he is, and it is on us, then, to recognize the profound threat he poses to our democracy and to our freedoms,” she warned the crowd.
Fox News’ James Levinson contributed to this report
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