Clyburn expects ‘mini primary’ for Democrats if Biden withdraws

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he would support the idea of a “mini primary” for the Democratic Party to choose a new candidate if President Biden decides to suspend his campaign amid growing concern from voters.

Clyburn joined CNN’s Erica Hill on Wednesday to discuss what could happen if Biden chooses to step aside. Hill asked Clyburn, a top ally of Biden’s, if he thinks the party should automatically hand the nomination to Vice President Harris or if there should be a primary campaign of sorts ahead of the party convention in August.

The South Carolina representative said he thinks “we’re going to have a mini primary leading into the convention,” noting the virtual roll call that needs to take place by Aug. 7 for the candidate to appear on the Ohio ballot. The Democratic National Convention is set to take place Aug. 19 in Chicago.

“You can actually fashion the process that’s already in place to make it a mini primary, and I would support that, absolutely,” Clyburn said.

He argued that if Biden does step aside, the Democratic Party should “open everything up” to others in the party who want to run for the White House.

After Biden’s poor debate performance, Clyburn said he would support Harris taking over the ticket because he has supported the Biden-Harris ticket all along.

He argued Wednesday that “Harris would acquit herself very well” in a mini primary, but the process would be “fair to everybody,” including “all of the other governors who may be interested.”

If the nomination is handed to Harris, she would need a strong running mate, he added.

A primary would “give us a good opportunity, not just to measure up who would be good to be at the top of the ticket, but also who will be best in second place,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn, who has spent more than two decades in House Democratic leadership, has been a close ally of Biden’s for years. When Clyburn endorsed Biden ahead of the 2020 primary in South Carolina, it served as a turning point that put Biden on track for the White House.

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