Dec 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden campaign plots late push ahead of South Carolina primary

Biden campaigns in South Carolina in June of 2023. Photo: Sydney Dunlap/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's re-election campaign is planning a January push in South Carolina to drive turnout and boost the overall campaign ahead of the Democratic primary on Feb. 3, three people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's a shift for the Biden campaign after originally focusing on the general election battleground states and leaving the South Carolina primary to the state party.

  • The move comes as polls show the president struggling to generate enthusiasm.
  • This is the first time South Carolina has been first in the presidential primary. South Carolina Democrats want to show enthusiasm in order to maintain pole position i future cycles.

Driving the news: The campaign and the Democratic National Committee are planning a show of party solidarity for Biden's re-election, including high-profile surrogates as polls show a lack of enthusiasm among the base.

  • The plans are still fluid and few events have been finalized, according to one party source.
  • The surrogates could include Democrats with their own future presidential ambitions who will see a dual benefit in campaigning in the state.
  • Vice President Harris will visit Myrtle Beach to speak at an annual women's retreat of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, AP reports.
  • A spokesperson for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told Axios that South Carolina isn't on his schedule, but he'd likely do a stop if asked.
  • The Biden campaign declined to comment.

Between the lines: Biden's team wants to show a unified, enthusiastic party behind the president in the state that turned around his 2020 candidacy.

  • The plans come on top of the Biden campaign recently hiring a South Carolina leadership team ahead of the primary.
  • Biden's team hired Scott Harriford to be state director with Clay Middleton and Jalisa Washington-Price to be political advisers, the campaign announced in early December.
  • DNC Chair Jamie Harrison, who is from South Carolina, has been heavily involved in the plans for the late push, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The bottom line: Biden faces little opposition in the state, but would benefit from a strong turnout and show of support.

  • Primary challenger Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) briefly campaigned in the state but is now planning to largely skip the contest, CNN reports.
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