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Harris highlights South Carolina's new importance to Dems in a quick trip to the state

Vice President Harris smiles as South Carolina Democratic Party chair Christale Spain accepts President Biden's paperwork for the state's Democratic presidential primary.
Meg Kinnard
/
AP
Vice President Harris smiles as South Carolina Democratic Party chair Christale Spain accepts President Biden's paperwork for the state's Democratic presidential primary.

Updated November 10, 2023 at 12:32 PM ET

Vice President Harris made a quick trip to Columbia, S.C., on Friday to file the official paperwork for the state's Democratic primary on Feb. 3.

The trip, kept under tight wraps by the Biden-Harris campaign and the White House, highlights the big shift that Democrats made for their presidential primary calendar this year.

Instead of starting in New Hampshire and Iowa, the party chose South Carolina, a state that resuscitated President Biden's campaign in 2020, and whose large base of Black voters were key to Biden's victory that year.

South Carolina "created the path to the White House for Joe Biden and me," Harris said in remarks to Democrats gathered at the party headquarters in Columbia.

"I'm here to say thank you. I am here to say, let's do it again. We will do it again," Harris said.

Harris' trip comes on the heels of Tuesday's off-year elections that showed some strengths for Democrats. Ballot initiatives showed voters strongly support abortion access, an issue that Harris has led for the White House.

"We are here with the wind in our back, because did anyone notice what happened on Tuesday?" Harris said, noting Democrats also did better than expected in the 2022 midterms.

With the presidential election a year off, polls have shown voters are not enthused about Biden and his track record on the economy. And they are concerned that he is too old for a second term.

This week, Biden and his campaign sharpened their attacks on former President Donald Trump, who is the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 race.

The campaign has so far focused on trying to highlight Biden's accomplishments on funding big infrastructure projects, creating jobs in the manufacturing sector and investing in electric vehicles and taking steps to cut prescription drug prices for seniors.

Harris has been deployed to 19 college campuses so far this year to talk to young voters about issues like climate, abortion and gun laws.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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