Elizabeth Warren struggles to turn out black Democrats in South CarolinaSeptember 28, 2019
ROCK HILL, South Carolina — Elizabeth Warren may have drawn a decent crowd in South Carolina’s Piedmont region, but the lack of diversity among the supporters who showed up foreshadows a hurdle for her White House bid.
The senator for Massachusetts, now a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination after a string of solid polls, delivered her stump speech to an audience braving 89 F heat on Saturday afternoon in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a Republican stronghold generally lumped into the Charlotte metropolitan area. The event was supposed to be held indoors, but it was shifted outside because of the number of people present.
Yet, despite her town hall being hosted by Clinton College, a historically African American institution, the crowd was largely white.
Warren deflected concerns about the enthusiasm gap among black Democrats for her candidacy as opposed to Joe Biden’s in the “First in the South” state, where the demographic comprises the majority of the primary electorate. Biden, the other top-tier candidate who served two terms as No. 2 to the country’s first African American president, polls well with older black voters in South Carolina and nationwide.
“African American women have really been the backbone of the Democratic Party for generations now. They get out there and they fight for people,” Warren told reporters. “What I’m doing is showing up and trying to talk to people about why I’m in this fight, about what’s broken, about how to fix it, and how we’re building a grassroots movement to get it done.”
The former special needs public school teacher turned Harvard Law School professor cited, for example, the importance of investing in other historically black colleges and universities, mitigating black-white wealth disparities, improving African American maternal health outcomes, and stamping out housing discrimination.
However, Warren, a staunch Wall Street critic, vocal consumer advocate, and frequent President Trump foil, pushed back on the assumption she hadn’t prioritized South Carolina over predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire. She also enjoys a geographical advantage in the Granite State being the senator from next door.
“I was actually here just last week,” she said, referring to the funeral for the wife of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a political kingmaker in the Palmetto State.
Among Warren’s black supporters who came out Saturday, they unsurprisingly argued their favorite could still win South Carolina and its more than 60 delegates.
Rosa Green, 65, who dropped in to see Warren after driving past and noticing the crowd, said she bucked the trend of older African American voters leaning toward Biden. “I think she’s progressive. I think it’s time for change. We need a new way of doing things in America, and I think she’s got some wonderful ideas as to implementing those policies,” the Fort Mill,…