Politics

South Carolina’s Clyburn says he is confident Biden will seek a second term

congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the assistant Democratic leader and a top Biden White House ally, told CBS News in an interview Wednesday that he is confident President Biden will seek re-election, even though the president has yet to formally announce another run.

“Yes, I am,” Clyburn said when asked if he is confident Biden will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024.

Clyburn said he speaks regularly with Mr. Biden, and Clyburn said he has urged the president to “file for re-election” because he believes Mr. Biden has passed “more progressive legislation than any president since Lyndon Baines Johnson.”

Clyburn’s comments come as Democrats nationally continue to wait for Mr. Biden to jump into the 2024 presidential race, which already includes former President Donald Trump, who announced his bid in November.

“In time,” Mr. Biden said earlier this month when asked when he will announce his decision.

The US Rep.  Jim Clyburn.  / Credit: CBS News

The US Rep. Jim Clyburn. / Credit: CBS News

Last year spoke with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Biden said, “I have a great respect for destiny. So what I do is – I do my job. I have to do that work. And in the time frame that makes sense after this next election cycle here, into next year, you have to decide what you’re going to do.”

“Look, my intention, as I said at the beginning, is that I would run again,” the president added in the interview with Scott Pelley. “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I will run again? It remains to be seen.”

Clyburn predicted Wednesday that Mr. Biden was unlikely to face a challenger in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary race and warned Democrats who might be considering a bid to resist any call to challenge the president.

“I don’t think he will and I don’t think he should,” Clyburn said of a potential challenge to Mr. Biden in the Democratic primary. “History is very clear about what happens when you challenge a sitting president like this.”

Clyburn noted that Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980 divided Democrats ahead of the campaign against Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Along with the legacy of President Johnson, who chose not to run in 1968 after Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing in New Hampshire, Clyburn said, “those two indicators” are “dangerous.”

In December, Mr. Biden reordered the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination calendar, putting South Carolina, the state that mounted his successful 2020 bid, first in the nation. That would draw New Hampshire’s first presidential primary for the first time in more than a century. Clyburn told CBS News he had nothing to do with the proposal to move South Carolina to the front row.

“I’ve always advocated for South Carolina to be first in the South,” Clyburn said. “I’ve never advocated for South Carolina to be first in the nation, so when I got the call that the president was going to make this recommendation, it was a surprise to me.”

In the wide-ranging interview with CBS News, Clyburn also addressed some of the most pressing issues and controversies, which new House under a Republican majority.

The longtime South Carolina congressman said he believes embattled Republican Rep. George Santos in New York was to resign from office. He also signaled that Democrats would work with Republicans to take legislative action against Santos, whether that would remove him from committees or bar him from the House. Clyburn said he would like to see at least five Republicans start the discharge petition.

“I think what we should do as Democrats is join with whatever Republicans there are who want to do something about this, so if a Republican puts forward a discharge petition, I will certainly sign it,” said Clyburn.

Democrats currently hold 212 seats in the House, and 218 signatures are needed for a discharge petition. Clyburn said he would not encourage Democrats to initially file the petition, as he believes Republicans should begin that process.

“This is their colleague and they should initiate the action,” the congressman said. Clyburn said Republicans alone could crack down on Santos, noting they gave him committee assignments and could take them away.

On the looming debt ceiling battle facing Congress, Clyburn said he believes Democrats and a small group of Republicans may eventually have to work together to fix the debt limit. Steps to keep the U.S. paying its bills and avoiding default could expire as soon as June The US hits the debt limit on January 19.

“Yes, I do,” Clyburn said when asked if he thinks the debt limit will ultimately be dealt with by Democrats working with a small group of Republicans. “It’s nothing unusual.”

“We cannot afford to threaten the full faith and honor of the United States,” Clyburn said. “That would, to me, be the worst-case scenario for any Speaker of Parliament to start his term.”

With some Republicans calling for spending cuts to be part of any debt reduction deal, Clyburn said he believes in negotiation and compromise, but he said Democrats would not agree to anything that would bring Medicare, Social Security or America’s security at risk.

“The American people, they pay into Social Security; they pay into Medicare,” Clyburn said. “And for us to be high and mighty to take that away after they made these investments, after they’ve planned their entire careers in terms of Social Security and Medicare, that’s something we must not compromise at all with.”

He signaled that there are other areas where lawmakers can talk about spending cuts.

Clyburn also addressed the discovery of classified documents at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington and his office at Penn-Biden Center in Washington, DC. from his time as deputy chairman.

Clyburn said the president has not spoken to him specifically about the issue. Clyburn argued that there is no indication that the president intentionally took documents and said the investigation will move forward. He said the president and the White House should let the Justice Department do its job.

“Stay out of the way. And if any other documents are discovered, do what he’s done before, turn them over immediately,” Clyburn said.

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