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Jim Clyburn Left House Leadership to Step Up Role in Biden Campaign




Rep. Jim Clyburn stepped down Wednesday from his position in House leadership in part to spend more time working on Biden’s reelection campaign, according to two people familiar with his decision.

The 83-year-old Democratic icon announced on Wednesday that he had informed House Speaker Hakeem Jeffries that he was stepping down from his position as Assistant Democratic Leader of the House Democratic Caucus, but that he would still run for re-election in his South Carolina House district.

Clyburn, who remains a political force in his home state, was instrumental in helping Biden secure the Democratic nomination in South Carolina four years ago. While he had already been working as a Biden surrogate, Clyburn is expected to play a more active role in the President's reelection campaign, as a voice with deep experience understanding Biden’s coalition and how to reach Black voters, said the person familiar with the decision. Clyburn is also likely to Travel to key states to talk to voters for Biden’s campaign.

"The intent is, as Clyburn transitions from his role in the House [leadership], he will focus more of his time and attention towards the reelection campaign—which means being an even more visible surrogate, also being an additional validator for both the President and his agenda and the reelection campaign and continuing to give counsel and advice as needed." says Antjuan Seawright, Clyburn’s political advisor. “And more importantly, he intends to continue to be a true friend and day-one ally of Joe Biden.”

Clyburn has been vocal about how Biden needs to confront his low poll numbers by talking more effectively about what he’s accomplished in office. He caused waves in early January when he publicly critiqued the Biden administration for not doing enough to reach voters supportive of Donald Trump. “I have no problem with the Biden administration and what it has done. My problem is we have not been able to break through that MAGA wall in order to get to people exactly what this president has done,” Clyburn said on CNN.

Biden has recently added close advisors to the senior ranks of his campaign. Last month, he tapped senior White House officials Jen O’Malley Dillon, who ran his 2020 campaign, and Mike Donilon, a longtime speechwriter and interpreter of Biden’s political instincts, to work in his campaign under campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez. O’Malley Dillon is focused on how Biden can win the electoral map and Donilon is working on campaign messaging and advertising. 

Clyburn is expected to be especially helpful with shoring up support for Biden with Black voters, a group with which the Democratic Party has lost ground, according to an analysis by Gallup released on Feb. 7. While Democrats still have a large lead over Republicans among Black voters, Gallup found an 11% decrease in Black adults who consider themselves Democrats since 2020, and an 8% increase in Black voters who are Republicans.