By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Orangeburg, US, Feb 2 (EFE).- Vice President Kamala Harris asked South Carolina on Friday to choose between President Joe Biden’s “unity” and “compassion” and Donald Trump’s “division” and “cruelty.”
“South Carolina, you are the first primary in the nation. Tomorrow is primary day here in South Carolina. And President Biden and I are counting on you…to vote and get everyone you know to vote to make your voices heard,” Harris said in a speech at South Carolina State University, reminding voters in the state of their influence.
Harris was in charge of delivering the closing speech of the campaign before South Carolina began the Democratic primary process on Saturday.
Although Biden’s victory is guaranteed, the results will serve to gauge his support among voters, especially among the black community.
Harris argued that a strong result in the state was essential for winning the November elections, in which Biden could once again face Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican camp.
“President Biden and I are guided by a fundamental belief. We work for you, the American people, and every day we fight for you. Sadly, however, that isn’t true for everyone. The case in point is Donald Trump,” she said, with dozens of African-American students among her audience.
“Trump has made it clear time and time again that his fight is not for the people. He fights for himself. He openly talks about his intention to weaponize the Department of Justice. For years, the former president has stoked the fires of hate and bigotry and racism and xenophobia for his own power and political gain.”
She called out the “profound threat he (Trump) poses to our democracy and to our freedoms.”
“Who sits in the White House, it matters. And in this election, each one of us faces the question: What kind of country do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a country of liberty, freedom, and rule of law, or a country of disorder, fear and hate? We face a choice. Cruelty or compassion. Chaos or competence. Division or unity,” she said.
Dozens of young African-Americans had gathered to listen to Harris, many of them students at the university, a historic center of the black community in Orangeburg County.
Some students were part of a choir, while others belonged to a marching band that beat their drums and let out shouts of joy before Harris arrived.
One of the members of the band, LaKayla Dixon, 21, told EFE how she deeply admired Harris, the first African-American woman vice president.
It was Harris who inspired her to exercise her right to vote for the first time on Saturday in the Democratic primaries, Dixon said. “Every vote counts.”
Harris’ speech was primarily aimed at young people like Dixon and focused on issues that concern them like student debt and abortion rights.
One of the challenges of the campaign is reaching young voters in the black community, who, according to polls, are not particularly enthusiastic about Biden and may choose to stay home rather than go to the polls in November.
On the stage where Harris spoke, there were two large signs that, in white letters and on a blue background, read, “First in the nation,” referring to South Carolina’s current position as the first state to begin the process of Democratic primaries.
At Biden’s initiative, the Democratic Party has modified the primary calendar, snatching from Iowa and New Hampshire the first places they had occupied since 1972 and granting this honor to South Carolina.
It has two objectives: to reaffirm Biden’s loyalty to the state that revitalized his candidacy in 2020 after finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, and to regain the support of African-American voters, which will be critical in an eventual battle with Trump.
South Carolina will be crucial to gauge the support of the African-American community for Biden, given that an estimated 60 percent of Democrats in the state belong to that minority.