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The first official Democratic primary of 2024 is Saturday in South Carolina


The first official Democratic primary of 2020 for is Saturday in South Carolina. President Biden spent the weekend in the state working to woo Black voters. As NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid reports, Democrats see the state as a springboard for Biden's reelection bid.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: It was a weekend of retail politics, and Biden's first stop was a barbershop.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I've taken more of these than anybody's business.



KHALID: He was snapping selfies and shaking hands. And then it was on to the South Carolina Democratic Party dinner. This is the first year South Carolina will go first. Biden himself pushed for this change to move the state ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.


BIDEN: The truth is I wouldn't be here without the Democratic voters of South Carolina, and that's a fact.

KHALID: Four years ago, Biden's campaign was struggling. He came to South Carolina having lost the three prior races. He needed a big win, and the Black voters of South Carolina delivered it to him.


BIDEN: You're the reason Donald Trump is a loser. And you're the reason we're going to win and beat him again.


KHALID: This trip was about saying thanks and reminding voters what he's done.


BIDEN: It was here in South Carolina that I promised to appoint the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court.

KHALID: Biden ran through a list of policy accomplishments, and the crowd cheered with him.


BIDEN: Promises made and promises kept.

KHALID: The next morning, the president went to church.


BIDEN: Thanks for bringing me home.

KHALID: Biden was brief, speaking of love and light and the power of the Black church.


BIDEN: You push us toward a more perfect union. You really do.

KHALID: The Biden campaign's focus on South Carolina is not solely about the upcoming primary. It's an uncompetitive race, and there's little chance a Democratic presidential candidate will win the state in a general election. But it's being watched closely as a test of Black voter support for Biden. Terrance Woodbury has some reservations. He leads Hit Strategies. It's a group that researches Black voter attitudes.

TERRANCE WOODBURY: I think that there is going to be overanalyzation of South Carolina, mainly because the voters that Democrats need to mobilize in the general election aren't participating in the primary election.

KHALID: Those less-frequent, disengaged voters, they don't really show up in primaries. But still, he says, the results might indicate whether Biden's message is resonating with voters. And that could be key as the Biden campaign looks to the November election and aims to win battleground states with big Black voting blocs like Georgia and North Carolina.

Asma Khalid, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
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