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Harris returns to South Carolina to boost voting in midterms

COLUMBIA (AP) – Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) in South Carolina to push for voter registration as she focusses on places and demographics that will be key to Democrats’ chances to hold on to Congress in midterm elections.

Harris is travelling to Orangeburg to speak at a convocation at South Carolina State University, an HBCU where President Joe Biden addressed graduates last year. She’ll also hold a roundtable discussion with students at nearby Claflin University.

The South Carolina trip, her third to the state as vice president, is part of Harris’ increased travel schedule ahead of the midterms. She talked reproductive rights in Chicago on Friday, and she’s heading to Wisconsin tomorrow to speak at the Democratic Attorneys General Conference. Earlier this month, she travelled to Houston for the National Baptist Convention.

Harris’ trips are designed to prevent, or at least limit, any drop-off in turnout among voters of colour and young people, important parts of the Democratic coalition.

In South Carolina, which holds the first presidential balloting in the South, Black voters play an outsize role in the Democratic voting electorate. During a June visit to the state, Harris expressed appreciation for South Carolina Democrats, whose key support for Biden in the first-in-the-South primary in 2020 helped turn around his campaign and build momentum in later contests that led to the party’s nomination.

Vice President Kamala Harris. PHOTO: AP

Harris’ arrival in South Carolina follows shortly after Biden’s noncommittal response to CBS’ 60 Minutes when asked if he would run again in 2024. “My intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again,” the President said during a wide-ranging interview that aired on Sunday. “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”

Biden noted in the interview that declaring his intention to seek re-election would put him afoul of campaign finance laws, which could have complicated spending by the Democratic National Committee ahead of the midterms.

White House officials said Biden is continuing to lay the groundwork for a 2024 run.

Allies, though, acknowledge that he could decide against seeking re-election before a formal announcement, which is expected in the first half of 2023.

Earlier this year, Biden committed to tapping Harris as his running mate for the 2024 re-election campaign. Her visit comes as Republicans considering White House bids of their own – including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – continue to crisscross the state.

Some native South Carolina Republicans have also been testing the 2024 waters. Nikki Haley, who served the state for six years as governor before joining the Trump administration as United Nations ambassador, lives in the Charleston area and has been visiting other early voting states, as has United States Senator Tim Scott.

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