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Clyburn ‘surprised’ by decision to make South Carolina first in Democratic primary calendar

<i>Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images</i><br/>Rep. Jim Clyburn
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rep. Jim Clyburn

By Shawna Mizelle, CNN

Rep. Jim Clyburn was “a bit surprised” to learn about President Joe Biden’s efforts to reshape the 2024 presidential nominating calendar and make South Carolina the first state to hold a primary, he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, though he supports the effort.

“I was stunned. Really. A bit surprised,” Clyburn said.

The South Carolina Democrat, an influential figure in the party whose 2020 endorsement of Biden is credited with revitalizing his then-struggling presidential campaign, pointed to the state’s previous influence in picking the Democratic presidential nominee.

“Every candidate that’s won South Carolina has gone on to be our nominee and get together majority of the vote in the general election,” Clyburn said on “CNN This Morning” in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.

Biden last week asked Democratic National Committee leaders to adopt this early state lineup, which strips Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status. The proposal by the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee needs to be approved at a full DNC meeting, which will take place early next year, and states will still need to set their own primary dates.

Comments made by committee members at a DNC meeting last week made it clear that Biden’s expression of his preferences played a significant role in the process. Many members praised the letter the president sent to the DNC panel on Thursday that called for a new calendar to prioritize diverse states in the early lineup and to not allow caucuses, which he described as “inherently anti-participatory.”

The proposal, which passed overwhelmingly, edits the 2024 presidential calendar schedule making South Carolina’s primary on February 3, Nevada and New Hampshire’s contests on February 6, Georgia’s primary on February 13 and Michigan’s on February 27. DNC members from Iowa and New Hampshire have objected to the proposal.

Clyburn also voiced his support for a reelection bid from Biden, who has yet to announce his 2024 plans.

“I’m making it very clear that I’m for Joe. As I’ve said way back, I know Joe. We know Joe, but most importantly, Joe knows us,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden has previously proven to be extremely helpful. Biden won the South Carolina primary in February 2020 after an endorsement from Clyburn, one of the state’s most notable legislators, and the primary win reignited Biden’s moribund campaign.

CNN previously reported in October that although Biden has not made a formal decision about running for reelection in 2024, it is his “intention” to do so.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in Washington on Monday he expects Biden to announce his decision whether to seek reelection “shortly after the holidays” and he expects that decision to be a run for a second term.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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