Clyburn to Biden campaign: C'mon man, hire more African-Americans

Rep. James Clyburn is credited with saving Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Biden’s campaign was low on cash and Sleepy Joe was watching Bernie Sanders’ early success in the primary season. As the South Carolina primary approached, Clyburn made the decision to help Biden out. Clyburn endorsed Biden at the eleventh hour, bringing along big support from African-American voters in South Carolina, which Biden desperately needed to win.


Fast forward to now. Clyburn gave an interview on CNBC Friday and offered up some advice to Biden and his campaign – hire more African-Americans as aides and staffers and round up more African-American volunteers, too. These are the people Clyburn says can do outreach for the Biden campaign in black communities across the United States. Clyburn knows that Joe can’t win without the support of the majority of black voters.

Clyburn says there is no time to waste, that the Biden campaign has to begin making serious efforts in getting out the vote now. “We have to get people involved in this campaign who know where and how to turn voters out.” It sounds like Clyburn wants to do on a national level what he did in South Carolina – get out the vote in African-American communities. According to an NBC News exit poll, Biden received 61% of the black vote in the South Carolina primary. He is worried that if outreach efforts don’t begin now, black voters will stay home in November.

Then he used an odd anecdote to make his point. He said that his wife Emily, now deceased, would get angry when a young white volunteer would knock on their door to canvass voters.

“She would get angry when she opened the door and an 18- to 20-year-old nonblack person asked if Emily is here,” he said.

“I know that if we want to turn out African American voters you need to have people that they know,” he added. “That’s why you got to hire people in these communities if you want them to turn out to vote.”


That doesn’t sound very unifying, does it? That little anecdote makes her sound racist. It just goes to show that when Democrat politicians give lip service for racial unity, it’s just malarkey. It’s also why so many Democrats continue to label President Trump as a racist – it is to their benefit. Democrats are relying on a large turn out of angry voters in November. Instead of inspiring voters, Team Biden will keep anti-Trump voters motivated by anger, the sole desire being to oust Trump from office. It’s not a pro-Biden vote, it’s an anti-Trump vote. Remember that when Biden finally entered the race, he gave Trump’s experience with the Charlottesville protesters as the reason he jumped in. He began his campaign by laying the foundation that he had to run because of Trump’s alleged racism.

How did that work out for Hillary Clinton in 2016? The anger plays well on both coasts and urban areas but fails to work elsewhere. Joe Biden can make up all the Corn Pop characters he wants but he sounds phony. Clyburn wants Biden to experience the kind of success Barack Obama had in turning out the black vote. The problem is that Biden isn’t Obama. He can talk about his best friend Barack from now until November but it sounds phony, opportunistic. We’ve all read the stories that Obama encouraged Joe Biden to sit out the race, to not even run in the first place. Obama only this week endorsed Biden after he was the only candidate left in the race. It wasn’t even a great endorsement, especially given that Obama is known for his ability to deliver a solid message.


Black voter turnout in 2016 was down for the first time in two decades. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, It fell to just over 59% after a record 66.6% turnout in 2012. Clyburn is sounding the alarm now to try to stop the downward trend from continuing. Call me a skeptic but I don’t think any white Democrat, especially an old white man with 40 years experience dwelling in the swamp, will ignite black voter turnout as Obama did.

Clyburn is also bothered by the fact that the Biden campaign has decided to use a super PAC, Priorities USA, as its main big money partner. Priorities USA was also used during Hillary’s run in 2016 and Democrats like Clyburn are anxious for other super PACs to get in on the action instead of relying on just one. Biden reverted back to his days with Obama to make the choice.

Biden’s campaign on Wednesday called Priorities USA, which was founded in 2011 to support President Barack Obama’s reelection, “a leader” among the groups working to defeat President Trump and an “organization of proven effectiveness.” The statement was viewed as a sign to wealthy backers that they should give to Priorities over other groups.

But some prominent Biden supporters said the decision had alienated outside groups that had formed since 2016 and helped turn out voters for Democratic wins in subsequent elections. One of those groups is Unite the Country, which boosted Biden through the primaries.

Among top Democrats pushing the campaign to accept help from a broader constellation of groups is Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), an influential figure whose endorsement was pivotal to Biden’s momentum toward the nomination.

“It’s a horrible mistake to put all the eggs in one basket,” Clyburn said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I believe very strongly that everybody has a role to play. No one person, no one entity can be all things to all people. It just can’t happen. One size does not fit all.”


Clyburn is probably right that more is better than only one when it comes to choosing a super PAC with which to align a campaign – campaigns are not allowed to coordinate with PACs by federal regulation but they can legally make public statements which signal support for their efforts. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake for the Biden campaign from super PACs and politically motivated non-profits. Clyburn doesn’t want to make the mistakes the Clinton campaign made in 2016. Oh, did I mention that Clyburn’s daughter is on the board of Unite the Country? Yeah, there’s that, too. Clyburn is a major player in the swamp these days. It sounds like Clyburn wants to make sure his daughter reaps the rewards of his efforts in the South Carolina primary.

All this points to the fact that Joe Biden is yesterday’s candidate. He is using the old playbook of taking votes for granted and waiting for the big money to come pouring in from super PACS to help him against President Trump in November as it did in South Carolina. In the era of the coronavirus pandemic, campaigning is not as it normally is, though, and that’s to Trump’s advantage. It will be pretty hard for Team Biden to outdo Trump’s campaign using ads and social media.

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