Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Biden ally Jim Clyburn seeks to reassure Milwaukee voters after debate struggles

From JSOnline:

Hope Karnopp
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn campaigned in Milwaukee Monday in support of President Joe Biden's reelection as many Democratic voters worry about the president's age and ability to inspire enthusiasm after a rough debate performance last week.

Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat whose endorsement of Biden in 2020 was instrumental to his campaign, met with faith leaders, voting rights activists and local officials for a roundtable discussion at Coffee Makes You Black, a Black-owned business and community space.

Clyburn, a top Biden ally, has stood behind the president after the debate, as have local officials like Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Clyburn has said he recognized "preparation overload" as soon as Biden answered the first debate question.

"Nothing is wrong with his brain. The people who looked at those answers from both (candidates) came to the conclusion that on substance, Joe Biden was the winner far and away," Clyburn said. "Joe Biden has never been a show horse, he's always been a work horse. Just the opposite is true with his opponent."

Clyburn said he has not spoken to Biden since the debate but will speak with him "in the next day or two" and tell him to "stay the course."

NBC News included Clyburn in a list of senior Democrats in Congress who have privately expressed concerns about Biden's viability, despite all publicly backing the president. A spokeswoman for Clyburn said any reports alleging Clyburn "has expressed anything other than firm support of President Biden are completely untrue."

Clyburn's visit comes days after Maryland Gov. Wes Moore visited Wisconsin with similar goals, including rallying Black voters in Milwaukee who have expressed little enthusiasm for a rematch of the 2020 election between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Like Moore, Clyburn and County Executive David Crowley sought to draw a contrast between what Biden has delivered for Black voters and Trump's tone during the debate, including his comment about undocumented immigrants taking "Black jobs" or "Hispanic jobs."

Crowley called out Trump's comment at the beginning of the roundtable, saying his "Black job" allowed him to open new pickleball courts for the county earlier in the morning. He also backed Biden during the roundtable conversation.

"The appearance does not matter when you look at the substance of what was being talked about," Crowley said. "There's a stark contrast related to governing under Trump and governing under Biden ... (Biden is) speaking to the future. He's speaking to the soul and spirit of America."

Leaders at the roundtable said voters need to understand the connection between Biden's presidency and policies that affect them, like reduced insulin costs and funding for construction projects and lead service line replacement.

In a statement, Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Matt Fisher suggested voters will instead be thinking about inflation and immigration. Republicans have also been taking steps to engage Black voters in Milwaukee, including opening a new office in the Harambee neighborhood to boost outreach.

“Jim Clyburn’s coronation of Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic primaries opened the door to four years of rising prices and open border policies. This November, Wisconsinites will close that door and restore American prosperity and security," Fisher said.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found that turnout among Black voters in Milwaukee has significantly lagged white voter turnout during presidential contests, with the exception of 2012 — when then-President Barack Obama's reelection bid triggered unprecedented levels of voting in the city.

Black voter turnout fell in 2016 to around 58%, and then again to around 51% in 2020. Black voters carry the voting power to deny Democratic victories if turnout in the city's Black neighborhoods is down. And voters interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this cycle didn't express broad enthusiasm for Biden.

Enthusiasm could be a key problem for Biden, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll released before the debate last week. Biden and Trump were tied at 50% among registered voters in Wisconsin, but voter enthusiasm benefitted Trump.

"Here's a path for Joe Biden to lose this election pretty badly, is that he's failed to inspire his supporters," poll director Charles Franklin said. "They're unenthusiastic about him and his campaign, and they're much less likely to vote than those who are very enthusiastic, who overwhelmingly are for Trump."

From: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2024/07/01/biden-ally-clyburn-seeks-to-reassure-milwaukee-voters-after-debate/74262414007/

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