Fellow Democratic presidential candidates, from left, Rep. Seth Moulton, Sen. Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Elizabeth Warren stand for a group photo during “Jim Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry” in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Reuters) – South Carolina is at the epicenter of the Democratic presidential primary contest this weekend as 22 candidates descend on the state’s capital to make their pitch for the party’s nomination for president of the United States.
Candidates will oscillate between four separate events – each catering to a different segment of the South Carolina electorate, including local party organizers, voters and activists.
South Carolina will be the fourth state to vote on a candidate for the party early next year, the first in which a significant proportion of the Democratic electorate – about 60 percent – is black.
“There are so many people here in South Carolina who want to make sure that we can have great health care, that their children can get a good education, that they can have good job opportunities, and like Texas, South Carolina has been changing, it’s becoming more competitive,” said Julian Castro, a Texan and former federal housing chief under President Barack Obama.
There are 24 Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
The candidates in South Carolina offered remarks at a fish fry hosted by U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Friday night, battling bugs and the sticky summer heat to shake hands with voters.
“It’s a great time to be in South Carolina – a little warmer than my announcement in Minnesota,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who launched her campaign earlier this year outdoors in a blizzard, told Reuters.
South Carolina swings strongly Republican, and its governor and two U.S. senators are Republican. A Democrat last won the state in a presidential election in 1976, and Trump triumphed in South Carolina in 2016 with 54.9% of the vote.
Reporting by Ginger Gibson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien