clearn.png
Friday August 14th, 2020 10:50PM

2020 campaign trail runs through churches in South Carolina

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — By now, most Democratic presidential candidates have polished their stump speeches. But when they're in South Carolina, they may need to add in a sermon.

In a large and diverse primary field, White House hopefuls are angling to develop relationships with black churches. That's because success in South Carolina, home to the nation's first Southern presidential primary, could come down to connecting with politically influential churchgoing African Americans.

"Candidates recognize that black churches are the places to be seen and heard," said Bobby Donaldson, a professor of civil rights history at the University of South Carolina. "If you're trying to find a captive and captivating audience, then the black church is the perfect place to get your message across."

Some 2020 candidates are already working to build their relationships with this community. Sen. Kamala Harris of California will attend an Easter service on Sunday in Columbia at a church whose pastor is a lawmaker who recently endorsed her campaign. She swung through a fellowship hall in North Charleston earlier this year and visited churches last fall to rally voters ahead of the midterms.

Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at a historic black church in Columbia, and both have held campaign events in fellowship halls at black churches around the state. In the past week, Sanders held a town hall in a black church in Spartanburg with members of the state's Legislative Black Caucus.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke have also visited black churches. And in one of her visits to three Charleston-area black congregations in February, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York gave a sermon of sorts, summoning a fiery cadence that spurred shouts of "Amen!" from the crowd of several hundred.

"I love the fact that your Bibles are under your seat," she told congregants at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist. "When you go on a plane and they say your life preserver is under your seat — OUR life preservers are under our seat!"

Gillibrand said she felt she had been well received, but some observers say such moments can be awkward.

"It seems very, for lack of a better term, inauthentic," said Jalen Elrod, a black voter and first vice chairman of the Greenville County Democratic Party. "She'd be better served if she came and said, 'Here's what I'm about. Here's what I'm trying to support.'"

Still, the visits allow candidates to introduce themselves to voters. They can also potentially elevate their standing with voters if they secure an official endorsement from church leaders.

That may be part of Harris' calculus, with her announcement last month of an endorsement from Darrell Jackson. The longtime state senator is also pastor of Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, a Columbia congregation that's seen as among the most influential in the black community. That's where she'll attend Easter services on Sunday.

But Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina political consultant and fifth-generation member of the African Methodist Episcopal church, notes that an endorsement from a pastor is no guarantee of securing his parishioners' support.

"Just because the pastor endorses doesn't mean the congregation follows," Seawright said. "The sheep don't always follow the shepherd because people have evolved, and they've become more independent in their thought."

While the pathway through the black church is a tricky one to navigate, it's hard to avoid. Jaime Harrison, who chaired the state party in the 2016 presidential cycle and is mulling a challenge to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, said that as candidates get past their introductory visits to South Carolina, voters will be watching their moves carefully.

"You expect people to come and visit your church or come to the local NAACP and be the keynote speaker," said Harrison, also associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Regardless of their approach, Seawright urged white candidates to strive to make authentic connections and develop policy proposals that back up whatever overtures they're making as they visit the state's parishioners.

"People want authenticity, people want genuineness, and they want honesty," Seawright said.

___

Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Celtics beat Pacers 104-96 to take 3-0 series lead
Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving added 19 to help the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 104-96 for a 3-0 lead in the first-round series
12:21AM ( 5 minutes ago )
2020 campaign trail runs through churches in South Carolina
In a large and diverse primary field, White House hopefuls are angling to develop relationships with black churches
12:08AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Trump laces into ex-advisers who spoke with Mueller
President Donald Trump is lashing out at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
11:55PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Trump expresses anger at Mueller report
President Donald Trump has changed his tune on special counsel Robert Mueller's report
10:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
Japan courts Trump using emperor, first lady's birthday
Without close friends in Asia, Japan's prime minister is seen using every opportunity, even the emperor's accession, to court President Donald Trump
8:50PM ( 3 hours ago )
Rural Nevada creating a virtual presidential campaign trail
A Democratic leader in rural Nevada says she's tired of presidential candidates saying it's too costly and time-consuming to visit far-flung towns
7:45PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump golfs with Rush Limbaugh in Florida
The White House says President Donald Trump played golf Friday with conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and a couple of unidentified friends
3:09PM ( 9 hours ago )
Trump blasts ex-advisers who say he tried to stop Mueller
A defiant President Donald Trump is unleashing tweets targeting former members of his administration who told special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators he tried numerous times to try to stop or influence the probe
2:12PM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump says statements in Mueller report 'untrue'
President Donald Trump says some statements made in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report are "fabricated & totally untrue."
2:07PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Rivals in Ukraine's presidential runoff debate at stadium
A comedian leading Ukraine's presidential race and the incumbent have faced off in a debate at the nation's largest sports arena two days before the election.
2:42PM ( 9 hours ago )
Powerful Emirati crown prince entangled by Mueller report
Powerful Emirati crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, entangled by Mueller report over Seychelles meeting
11:46AM ( 12 hours ago )
Ukraine's president holds rally ahead of key TV debate
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rallied his supporters in Kiev in a last-ditch attempt to keep his job, hours ahead of a nationally televised debate Friday against the challenger who is expected to beat him in the presidential runoff
11:35AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Report shows Trump trying to shut down probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report spells out how President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe
10:10PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Report links Senate intel chair to White House
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report suggests that the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee may have shared information with the White House after a confidential FBI briefing in March 2017
7:41PM ( 1 day ago )
'A good day': Trump claims victory with Mueller report out
Even before the world got a glimpse at the redacted version of the special counsel's report, President Donald Trump was trying once more to frame the moment as a political victory.
7:13PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Mueller reveals Trump's attempts to choke off Russia probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report reveals that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller's removal
9:40PM ( 1 day ago )
National Enquirer being sold to former newsstand mogul
The National Enquirer is being sold to the former head of airport newsstand company
7:15PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Mueller team dissatisfied with Trump's responses
Robert Mueller's report reveals President Donald Trump's efforts to seize control of the Russia probe and force the special counsel's removal
11:30AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Barr to give Congress redacted report at 11 a.m.
Attorney General William Barr says he will give Congress a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative report at 11 a.m
9:39AM ( 1 day ago )
Warren, in Utah, pledges changes in national-monument policy
Elizabeth Warren has promised to restore public lands protections for two of the state's high-profile national monuments if elected president
10:20PM ( 2 days ago )
Ex-Virginia Gov. McAuliffe won't run for president in 2020
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe won't run for president in 2020
9:59PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Celtics beat Pacers 104-96 to take 3-0 series lead
Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving added 19 to help the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 104-96 for a 3-0 lead in the first-round series
12:21AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Trump laces into ex-advisers who spoke with Mueller
President Donald Trump is lashing out at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
11:55PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Democrats subpoena Mueller report amid calls for impeachment
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Friday for special counsel Robert Mueller's report as Congress escalates its investigation of President Donald Trump
11:54PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Parents who starved and shackled children sentenced to life
A California couple who for years starved a dozen of their children and kept some shackled to beds have been sentenced to life in prison
11:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
Matthews, Kapanen score late, Maple Leafs edge Bruins 2-1
Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen score in third period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs held on the beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series
11:17PM ( 1 hour ago )