Politics & Government

President Obama will visit South Carolina for first time

By Andrew Shain, ashain@thestate.com

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama AP FILE

- President Barack Obama will visit Benedict College in Columbia on Friday for a youth event, The White House said.

Obama has not visited South Carolina since winning the state’s Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 26, 2008.

South Carolina is one of three states that Obama has not visited since becoming president. Utah and South Dakota are the others.

Details about the president’s visit will be released later this week, The White House said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, has worked to bring Obama back to South Carolina.

“I'm pleased to welcome President Barack Obama back to South Carolina,” Clyburn said in statement provided to The State. “I thank President David Swinton and the Benedict College family for hosting President Obama's event with students and youth leaders.”

S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison said he hopes Obama can visit with younger Democrats in a state where the party is looking to overtake a Republican majority.

About 25 percent of the 300 Democrats at an issues conference in Myrtle Beach over the weekend were under age 35.

“We’re looking at growing the party and rebuilding the party,” Harrison said. “We have a lot of people is anxious to see him.”

Obama defeated then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton by a margin of 55 percent to 26.5 percent in the 2008 S.C. Democratic presidential primary.

The president would name Clinton to his cabinet as secretary of state. Clinton is considered a likely 2016 White House contender.

While Obama has not visited South Carolina, his second-in-command has become a bit of a Palmetto State regular.

Vice President Joe Biden has traveled South Carolina several times since the 2008 election, including a swing through Columbia and Charleston less than two weeks ago.

Biden, who is weighing a 2016 presidential run, visited Columbia twice last year for a voter turnout rally at Allen University in October and to deliver the commencement address at the University of South Carolina's in May.

In 2013, Biden headlined the S.C. Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner.