In some very important ways, the Joe Biden campaign for president in South Carolina is, in my view, a continuation of the James Smith for governor campaign.
It’s not just that James himself is supporting Joe, as Joe supported him. At the recent Biden event at 701 Whaley, I was struck by how many of our key people from the 2018 campaign were continuing the mission by supporting Joe. It’s something I’d been aware of for some time, but hadn’t really thought about for a simple reason — it just seemed the most natural thing in the world.
At the top, you have Kendall Corley — who was our political director in 2018 — heading up Biden’s campaign in South Carolina. And Biden’s state political director is Scott Harriford, who was James’ driver and “body man” in 2018, and held the title of deputy political director. Scott was the first person James hired for the campaign, back in the summer of 2017, and was right there at his side from then through Election Day. (I thought I had an intense, whirlwind experience those last eight days on “the bus,” but Scott had been doing it for way over a year.)
At the 701 Whaley event I ran into Noah Barker, who assisted me with social media in 2018. Noah, who I think has reached the ripe old age of 19, is now working for the Biden campaign while attending college.
And while she’s not actually working in the Biden operation — she’s helping Jaime Harrison run against Lindsey Graham instead — Ashley Medbery Floyd, our finance directer in 2018, was at the 701 event, too. She and Noah and I marked the occasion with a selfie.
All this is natural because, well, there is such a bond between Joe and James. Their shared values are such that I don’t see how anyone who really believed in James in 2018 — and as his communications director, I certainly did and do — could possibly do anything but support Joe.
One of the things that drove me nuts back during the campaign was the way the political reporters went ape over anything having to do with 2020 presidential candidates coming through the state. They’d call me and ask what we’d be doing together with so-and-so on his or her swing through the state, or what we had to say about it, and it would put me in a bind. We didn’t want to say anything unkind about these national Democrats, but at the same time, we couldn’t have cared less about their visits. They were here for themselves, not for us.
But not Joe. Joe was our guy, and we couldn’t wait to see him. We knew he was coming, and we were really disappointed when he had to postpone his initially planned event because of complications related to the hurricane. But finally, on Oct. 13, he came down to Charleston to do a fund-raiser for us, and it was possibly the best day of my time on the campaign. And I could tell it was a high point for everyone else. (It was such a big deal that upon arriving in Charleston, Campaign Manager Scott Hogan went to a shop on King Street and bought himself a suit, and wore it to the event. You have to know Hogan to get what a big deal that was. He normally dressed like a guy about to go out and mow the lawn.)
Anyway, I could go on and on about the way one campaign flows into the other, but I have a point to make here, and it is this: If you voted for James, if you believed in James, you should believe in Joe Biden, and vote for him. I don’t see how you work it out any other way.
James is not authorizing me to say this (I haven’t asked him). I’m saying it myself.
As communications director, I think I have as good a grasp of what the Smith campaign was about as anyone does. It was a campaign for all the people of South Carolina — black, white, old young, male, female, Democratic, Republican and independent. It was a campaign that would Leave No One Behind.
And Joe is running the exact same kind of campaign for the soul of the nation.
One more point, an elaboration on that one: Maybe James Smith isn’t your favorite Democrat. He should be, but maybe he isn’t.
Still, if you are a Democrat, or someone who frequently votes for Democrats, you should take note that pretty much every Democrat you have nominated and/or voted into statewide office in the past 20 years and more is supporting Joe Biden for president. And for good reason.
I’m talking not just James, but Vincent Sheheen, who was your standard-bearer twice.
And Jim Hodges, our state’s last Democratic governor.
And Dick Riley, the last Democratic governor before Hodges. (And speaking of great public servants with that name, the greatest mayor of his generation in the country, Joe Riley.)
And Inez Tenenbaum, the last superintendent of education who was (and still is) a Democrat.
Now, Jim Clyburn — the current highest-ranking Democrat in the state, and one of the most powerful in the country — has joined that list. And it’s a long list. The Post and Courier put most of it together a few weeks ago, before Hodges had come out for Joe.
These are people who embody the heart, the core, of what it means to be a Democrat in South Carolina. No one could be more in touch with what South Carolina Democrats care about.
Still speaking to Democrats and people who sometimes vote for them here (let’s call you DAPWSVFTs for short)… These are all people you have believed in in the past, in whom you have placed your trust. Scoff at endorsements all you like, but I’m telling you these are smart people who know these candidates, who know the country and its needs, who know South Carolina, and they are for Joe. They’re putting their reputations out there in support of him, and you might think that’s a small thing, but it isn’t.
These people know what they’re about, and they’re for Joe. And most of you DAPWSVFTs have indicated your respect and support for these people in the past. These are people who share your values.
So it makes all the sense in the world that you would join them in voting for Joe Biden for POTUS on Saturday.
best day of all…
“…what it means to be a Democrat in South Carolina.”
It’s called “learned helplessness.” And I do not want that at the national level.
Thanks for finally convincing me NOT to vote for Joe.
That’s really constructive, Mr. Smith. I hope that slap in my face — in all these people’s faces — makes your day. Because it won’t accomplish anything else.
I’m trying to do something positive for our country here, in my own small way. I’m sorry that it only provokes your scorn.
At this point, the only likely outcomes are that Joe surges after a victory in South Carolina, or that Bernie Sanders is the nominee.
And if you want four more years of Trump, go ahead and vote for Bernie. But I wish you wouldn’t…
Ah, too bad you choose to take it personally — while simultaneously hiding out in the crowd.
But you have no business telling anyone how they should vote and then condemning them if they don’t.
Besides, did I say I plan to vote for Sanders?
More evidence of a Biden Bro mentality in operation.
That’s pretty funny. Brad Warthen of bradwarthen.com, who has spent most of his adult life telling everybody what he thinks about everything, without letup — first because he was paid to do it, but now because he just can’t seem to stop — is “hiding out in the crowd”…
Oh, you’re welcome to say how you intend to vote — as you’ve done ad nauseum for the longest now. But it is quote another thing to tell us how we SHOULD vote, if we know what’s good for the country. Which is exactly what your “headline” above says.
It’s his blog. He can and should do as he likes. You are free to avoid the page.
You’re missing the point.
He can say anything he likes.
But I don’t have to like it.
And since there’s a comment section, I can voice that dislike.
And when someone says, you must vote for my preferred candidate or you will be doing the country a disservice, then I not only disagree, I take offense.
I do not plan to vote for Sanders.
But I will not be voting for Biden — because I do not think he can win the general.
“I do not plan to vote for Sanders.”
I applaud anyone who says that.
Beyond that: There may have been occasions in the past when I’ve said something someone might construe as “you must vote for my preferred candidate or you will be doing the country a disservice.”
But I don’t think I did that in this post. I was trying to be as positive as possible, celebrating the people who support Joe, not condemning those who don’t.
Probably the strongest thing I said as to what my readers should do was, “So it makes all the sense in the world that you would join them in voting for Joe Biden for POTUS on Saturday.”
There was no “or else you’re a bad guy.”
I suppose my sometimes vehement advocacy on other occasions somehow taints all my posts, for some of my readers. And I regret that…
That’s the only way I know how to write — prescriptively. I see things as I think they should be, and I advocate for those things, urging others to join me.
I wouldn’t vote a certain way if I don’t think that people who share my values (which is what is meant here by the “if you voted for James” stuff) ought to do the same. I try to say it nicely, and reasonably. Apparently, I don’t always succeed.
People who voted for James, and for these other Democrats, will do as they like. But I didn’t want this primary to go by without pointing out that the course most consistent with their previous votes would be to go with Joe…
Of course, I was mainly just naming top statewide Democrats above.
The list of lawmakers, present and former, backing Joe contains many of the Democratic legislators I’ve most respected over the years, such as Joel Lourie, Marlon Kimpson, Beth Bernstein, Ginger Crocker, Vida Miller, Jim Felder, and the full list goes on and on…
Well, after much consideration of the options facing SC, I’ve decided I will vote for the one I have long derided. Warren. But the reality is, she has all of the attributes needed to beat Trump. She might be too wonky for SC, but that’s where I landed.
Joe remains unpalatable at this point; though he is far above Bernie. Why Bernie fascinates the young kids is beyond me. He’s just another Ralph Nader. A one-trick pony to me
Those wacky kids!
I’m sorry you’re not backing Joe, but I’m happy you’re not going for either Bernie, or for Steyer, who is trying to buy this primary.
And if I were going to go with one of the leftward candidates, it would be Warren. She may get on my nerves with that incessant “fight” stuff, but she’s WAY better than Bernie.
It really surprises me how many people who want the same things will go with someone as off-putting as Bernie instead of Warren. It’s been one of the stranger developments in this political season, that she lost all that ground to him…
Speaking of Steyer… I kind of liked the guy at first, but I find the role he is playing in SC to be a negative one.
He can’t win. But in his all-out effort to steal away black voters from Joe — and I don’t know if all of y’all are seeing everything he’s doing, as you may not be plugged into African-American media in the state — could weaken Joe enough that Bernie, who’s on his heels, could win or come in a close second.
And that could knock Joe out for good.
And that would make this race between Bernie and Bloomberg. Steyer wouldn’t be a factor…
And speaking of Joe, Bernie and Steyer, here’s some good news:
Of course, I can’t help thinking how much more of a lead Joe would have over Bernie if not for those millions Steyer has spent to take votes away from him…
And of course, the P&C’s own poll has shown Joe holding only a four-point advantage over Bernie — within the margin of error.
P&C’s a good paper, but I sure am hoping their numbers are wrong…
I voted for Nader in 2000. Worst vote of my life. Mostly because he opposed the death penalty. Just didn’t appreciate how awful W was. But I think its unfair to compare Bernie to Nader. Nader was a third party gadfly with no political experience. Sanders has been a Mayor, US congressman and US senator. He has endorsed a broad range of progressive ideas consistently for many years. He’s no flip flopper. His life story is much more compelling than most people give him credit for.
This has been a paid political announcement…..and I agree!!!
Bernie is holding a rally in Mass this week just to knock out Warren. Bernice is holding a rally in Minn this week just to knock out Klobachar. This will come down to Bernie and Joe with Bloomberg tagging along for the ride. This isn’t window shopping. This isn’t about buying something from Amazon, not liking it (or in my case it won’t fit), then returning it. This is about saving our democracy. We gotta take this more seriously.
I’ll be in Columbia Saturday evening at Joe’s victory party. Hope to see you all there!!!
You just might — see me there, I mean…
Thanks for supporting Joe, Doug!
Your disdain for Bernie is extreme and unfair
You ruin your credibility
That attitude will get us four more years …
I was firmly in the Elizabeth Warren camp at one time but she has kind of turned me off with her excessively strident attacks on Mike Bloomberg and elusiveness on how much middle class taxes go up under her plan. But perhaps that stridency is just what we need against Trump. I just don’t know. Getting in the gutter with the small-handed, orange menace is a treacherous strategy. Maybe she can pull it off. Still, I probably won’t vote for her Saturday.
I very much like Amy. She’s the right age and has good political experience. But she seems completely out of it. May yet vote for her.
I also like Mayor Pete, smartest person in the race. But he could use a bit more experience. May yet vote for him.
Tom Steyer has interesting ideas and is especially good on climate change. His history as a hedge fund manager is hard to get past though. I probably won’t vote for Tom Saturday.
It may be time to get behind Bernie. He has solid liberal ideas. But he does have a few flaws, especially his age and health. Perhaps abolishing ALL private health insurance is scary for some and could be a factor. Conventional wisdom has somehow coalesced around the narrative that a socialist cannot be elected. That is interesting given the lack of clear polling evidence to that effect. You have to take much of this with a gigantic grain of salt given that many of those pushing this notion also believed Saddam Hussein had WMD and that Hillary was best against Trump. Frankly I’m very much of the mind that it doesn’t matter who the Dems pick. This will be an up or down referendum on Trump. Bottom line, I may vote for Bernie simply because it is time to coalesce behind one person.
Joe Biden is perhaps the biggest surprise for me. He seemed like a nice enough guy as VP. His personal story is quite compelling. But as the campaign has continued I like Joe less and less. I knew he was old and had health issues so I pretty much dismissed him because of that. But this touchy-feely persona he exudes is really creepy. And then there are the endless gaffs. Is he really playing with a full deck? Makes you wonder. And his voting record in the senate would make Jesse Helms proud. His reprehensible Iraq war vote alone is nearly reason enough to reject him. But hey, everyone makes mistakes. But unlike John Kerry and Hillary he never showed much if any remorse. Finally, there’s the whole Hunter Biden in Ukraine thing. Not sure Biden has really explained that satisfactorily. 100% will not vote for Joe Saturday. But unless he picks a Republican for a running mate I will vote for him if he’s the nominee.
Also will not vote for Mike or Tulsi.
Thanks for that thoughtful post, Bud. I’ll just quibble with one word in it: Bernie is not a “liberal.”
Biden is, as are Pete and Amy and even Elizabeth Warren. Bernie is something else.
David Brooks did a pretty good job of explaining the difference in his column today, which I may share later in a separate post. An excerpt:
Oh, and I’ll say again: I’m totally with you on liking Amy. Which is why I’d like to see her as Biden’s veep…
Populists like Sanders speak as if the whole system is irredeemably corrupt.
David Brooks never has anything useful to say so why start now. Bernie wants universal health care paid for by the government. BY DEFINITION that will require working within the system. What Bernie finds corrupt is a pharmaceutical industry that has somehow managed to make insulin prices unaffordable for a drug developed a century ago. Bernie finds corruption in a system that allows college costs to increase far faster than inflation thus saddling 10s of millions of young Americans with massive debt. Bernie sees corruption in a system that allows trillions of dollars of wasteful military spending and disastrous overseas wars. There is undeniable corruption in a system that allows 3 people to control as much wealth as the 150 million poorest people in America. Yes there is corruption. But not irredeemable corruption. Bernie will address these issues by working with congress not as some sort of despot overlord. Bernie is a pragmatist NOT a nihilist.
I don’t think he’s a nihilist. But I don’t see him as a pragmatist, either. He clings to a belief that if he is elected, he’ll be able to do what he’s never been able to do in all the years he’s been in office previously: Get Congress to do exactly what he wants.
Hence his famous quote. When someone points out that none of us could know what “Medicare for All” would look like in practice, Bernie furiously asserts that HE knows, because “I wrote the damn’ bill!”
As though precisely what he wrote will actually become law. He thinks the only thing missing for his wishes to become fact is for him to be elected president.
I find this disturbing, and most illiberal. In our system, other people — including people who disagree strongly with you — also get a say. And that’s a GOOD thing. It is not evidence that “the system is rigged.”
One other quick point: I guess one reason Bud and I disagree as much as we do is that he believes “David Brooks never has anything useful to say,” whereas I believe he almost ALWAYS has something useful to say, whether I agree with it or not.
There are a lot of opinion writers out there I like, but Brooks may be the one who most often offers thoughtful, and respectful, observations on concerns that I share.
It’s very unusual for him to say anything with such force and finality as he did today: “No, Not Sanders, Not Ever.” But even when he does that, he does so in a civil and respectful manner.
Here’s one thing that I deeply respect him for, something he does that I too often fail to do: He remembers to explain things, things that it just doesn’t occur to me to explain. I tend to more or less assume people know certain things that I know, whether they are things I learned in school (when other folks were studying business or math or science, I obsessively took every history and political science elective I could cram into my schedule) or have picked up through decades of closely observing and interacting with politics and politicians.
He explains things carefully to people who DON’T spend their lives thinking about these ideas, and in doing so he helps me understand them better, too. He’s great at standing back and examining the whole landscape, and doesn’t just leap to intuitive conclusions the way I do. I find it impressive. Sometimes, I read him and think, “YEAH, that’s what I’ve been trying to say!” Other times, I have to admit, “I didn’t know that, and now I’m glad I do…”
But you know what?
Even though I think he explains things much better than I do, he seems to fail to get his ideas across even more spectacularly than I do — possibly because he reaches so many more people than I ever have.
As I’ve said before, I’m often surprised at the virulent disdain so many people fling at Brooks’ rational, respectful, mild-mannered columns…
That’s the strong whiff of anti-intellectualism lifting people’s noses.
Bernie is no better than Trump with his myopic hubris. Why anyone actually listens to either one is beyond me.
Joe had a capacity crowd tonight in Conway. 200 people couldn’t get in the gym. Great rally. Joe focused on the issues.
I believe Joe has the mo’. Hope it carries over to Super Tuesday.
If the coronavirus indeed becomes a pandemic and going hand in hand, the stock market continues its downturn, the resulting recession that will ensure a Democrat winning in November becomes more and more a reality.
If Pence mishandles the coronavirus in the eyes of Democrats and the media and a vaccine and needed assistance to the impacted communities is not superb, there will be enough 24/7 criticism to have a serious impact on how people will vote. Add to it a recession of any type that will cause a rise in unemployment will be laid at the feet of the Trump administration and he will most likely be voted out even if Joe Biden is not the nominee.
When events impact the income and health of the general public, even if unavoidable, they will look to blame someone and as history has proven, sitting presidents generally are the ones who pay the price by losing a re-election attempt.
Depending on the outcome of the virus and economy over the next 2 – 3 months, Democrats may have reason to rejoice if the outcome damages Trump enough. The Democratic candidate won’t really matter if the virus and economy do the job Democrats cannot do on their own.
Well, I certainly hope no one will be rejoicing if we have a pandemic and economic crash.
But taking your point, as I think you meant it, you could be right that if these bad things happen, Trump “will most likely be voted out even if Joe Biden is not the nominee.”
And if it’s likely that ANY Democrat will win, it becomes all that much more important that we choose well. Some of us might be willing to vote for, say, a Bernie as a protest vote against Trump, if we’re sure Bernie won’t win.
But we need to think longer and harder about who we really WANT to be president if that person is likely to win. Our responsibility to the country becomes greater.
And that could put some people in a dilemma. Freed from having to worry about electability, they might have to recalculate.
But not me. Yeah, I think Joe is the one most likely to beat Trump, and that’s one great reason to vote for him. But Trump aside, he’s simply the guy I’d most like to see as president…
So if the Democrat were guaranteed to win, Joe would still be my No. 1 pick, by far…
A recession as an acceptable means to unseat Trump is already out there. Bill Maher was the first to voice it and since his comments were aired, many have been supportive of a recession either implicitly or by indirect inference. The economy is good and attributable to Trump whether he deserves it or not. That is the way it has always been, the sitting POTUS gets credit for the good things that occur during his administration whether he is responsible for not. Same as for the bad things whether he is responsible or not.
I have a few friends who are staunch supporters of Sanders but will vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee. Some have expressed a willingness to support a recession if it can remove Trump from office. The problem is that the ones expressing such are in great financial condition and a recession wouldn’t do any harm to their economic well being. It is literally a mindset of “I have mine and am willing to accept your sacrifice if it will defeat Trump.”
On the other side, I have a few friends who are staunch supporters of Trump and have expressed their concerns over the coronavirus and economy being the vehicles that will take Trump down if the coronavirus is politicized against Trump and Pence in addition to a recession. Although the virus is not Trump’s fault, how his administration handles the potential pandemic is vital, maybe in some ways more so than a recession.
As of today, Trump is on the path to re-election and the potential for Congress to totally flip to Republicans is a stark reality whether political pundits agree or not. The debates have been a debacle and ended in favor of Trump and Republicans so far. The Charleston debate(?) was the cherry on top of a disgruntled and disorganized effort by Democrats to pull a coalition together to defeat Trump. At this point in the process and if future events do not make a significant change in the landscape, Trump will win in November. An unfortunate series of events, coronavirus and recession, that will harm the public in general seems to be the deterrents to a November Trump and Republican
Winston Churchill first said, “never let a crisis go to waste”. Later to be echoed by Rahm Emanuel addressing the 2008 recession and Clinton tying climate change to it. If the pandemic and recession come to pass, either one or both, it will be a crisis situation that Democrats cannot let go to waste if they want to remove Trump from the White House and gain seats in Congress.
It didn’t take long for me to decide to support Joe Biden. I put a Biden sticker on my car within days of his announcement. However, for those who still have doubts about supporting Joe, please watch Biden’s appearance on this week’s CNN town hall. Not the yelling, finger-jabbing, snarky mayhem of Tuesday’s CBS Democratic debate in Charleston, but the CNN town hall, where Joe Biden spoke one-on-one with voters, who asked questions from the audience. What was evident is his confidence, calmness, empathy, good humor, and thorough institutional understanding of issues, demonstrating what the country could become once again under the right leadership. It was clear he is the polar opposite of Donald Trump. He doesn’t grandstand, shout, name call, or bully. Instead, he demonstrates what it will take to right the ship of state, which is listing right and left leaving the country in an uproar. As president, Biden could do what Lincoln said, “Bind the country’s wounds.” He will reassure our alarmed allies, encourage confidence in our beaten down government institutions, surround himself with the best experts, listening to – not dismissing – their advice. He will restore that sense of calm that America is still the world’s model of progressiveness, strength, and compassion. As far as electability, Biden is the most likely candidate to attract the support of embarrassed country club Republicans and outraged suburban women. He also will be the strongest candidate to challenge Donald Trump because, when seen side-by-side, the contrast in their natures, character and world knowledge, will be so stark as to leave no doubt who can best lead the country.
Amen, Sally. And thanks for sharing.
Here’s a link to that town hall Sally’s talking about…
One of my favorite books of old is “The Real Majority” by Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg. They argued the American electorate is mostly centrist. It was a best seller in 1970 when I was in college and read it, and I still believe in its conclusions even though based on old election data. In South Carolina it is more complicated because many are culturally conditioned to believe anything without the word “conservative” is an abomination.
Others are more practical and believe, as I do, that some things conservative, some things liberal, and many things in between are necessary and just. We are the centrists. We listen to others and usually select the one closest to the center. The center is where things get done, often through compromise. In a pluralistic society, this is what is needed for progress to benefit the most. Without the center, progress slows or stops. This is why Biden deserves the nomination.
Joe is best positioned to restore faith in our “liberal democracy”. This means a traditional Western democracy where the purpose of government and the rights of the individual are enshrined by a constitution and leaders represent the people. Assaults on institutions essential to liberal democracy recently have been frequent. Someone who has served long and hard in two branches of government, as has Biden, and has the experience and wisdom to recognize the threat to our institutions, particularly the rule of law, is needed. That’s Joe Biden and it is why he deserves to be president.
Biden is a centrist. It is where the best leaders are who want to make decisions that help the most people. This is where people of good will are. If Joe Biden is anything, he is an authentic person of good will. After four years of a president whose every opportunity to speak results in more about him than anyone else, we desperately need a centrist of good will –like Joe Biden.
Amen, Mark. Thanks for your comments!
I haven’t made up my mind.
A family member of mine- 19 years old- is voting for Bernie tomorrow and is bringing a few friends to the polls to vote.
I’m leaning toward voting for Bernie myself. But I might go for Joe too. Will decide in the booth.