Elections

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris campaigns seek to counter Mike Pence visit to Anderson

2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters in Columbia

2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters in Columbia at the Hyatt Park Community Center
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2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters in Columbia at the Hyatt Park Community Center

The campaigns for Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are making plans to counter Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance at a GOP fundraiser in Anderson next week.

Biden’s campaign will host an event for Democrats in Belton and Harris’ campaign plans to conduct a phone bank for the Anderson County Democratic Party as Pence attends a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan next Monday in Anderson.

Neither candidate will be in Anderson County when Pence arrives. But Biden is scheduled to make a swing through the Upstate next week. Specific details have not been released about his two-day visit, which will wrap up precisely six months before South Carolina holds the South’s first Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 29, 2020.

Biden’s camp is urging the campaigns for the other Democratic presidential candidates to come to its anti-Trump event, which will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 26 at Welfare Baptist Church on Bolt Drive.

“Donald Trump continuously preys on our divisions while Pence and the rest of the administration sits idly by,” Kendall Corley, the Biden campaign’s state director, said in an emailed statement. “We want to give South Carolina Democrats a place to unite, and as Vice President Biden says, ‘We will give hate no safe harbor.’ We are stronger in doing that together, so we hope our fellow Democrats will join us.”

Harris’ campaign also is inviting other Democratic presidential campaigns to join in doing “the real real work of helping Democrats at the local level elect leaders,” said Jalisa Washigton-Price, the state director and deputy national political director for Harris’ campaign, in a written statement.

“Mike Pence and Jeff Duncan have fought against reasonable gun violence reforms to keep our families safe and they have both refused to stand up for teachers and families fighting to give their kids a quality education,” Washington-Price said. “Our campaign will spend Monday helping the Anderson Democratic Party organize so that, come 2020, Jeff Duncan is out of a job.”

Staff members for Pence and Duncan had yet to respond to emails Monday from The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail seeking comment.

Pence is visiting Anderson Aug. 26 to speak at Duncan’s Faith and Freedom Barbecue. The annual event at the Civic Center of Anderson is billed as the state’s largest gathering of conservatives. Duncan, a Republican from Laurens, is serving his fifth term representing a district that includes all of Anderson and Pickens counties and part of Greenville County.

Mike Kay, chairman of the Anderson County Democratic Party, said the efforts of the Biden and Harris campaigns will be helpful. Kay said he wants to focus mainly on making sure a large crowd attends the event at Welfare Baptist Church.

Harris, a 54-year-old first-term U.S. senator from California, campaigned earlier this year for Greenville County Democrat Tina Belge, who lost a state Senate race to Republican Dwight Lofits.

She also emphasized the need for presidential candidates to build up the Democratic Party during a June 27 speech at the South Carolina Democratic Party convention in Columbia.

“We can’t just helicopter in here,” Harris said. “We have to support the people who are on the ground, who know the community and do the work every day.”

Biden, a 76-year-old former U.S. senator from Delaware who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama, is considered the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

On the campaign trail, Biden has frequently framed the 2020 election as “a battle for the soul of the country.”

“This president has fanned the flames of white supremacy,” Biden said Sunday during a fundraiser Sunday in Harwich Port, Massachusetts, according to a pool report. “And the energetic embrace of the darkest forces of this country give testament to it.”

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