WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said Thursday that the Democrats should give up “restrictive” caucuses and prioritize diversity at the beginning of their presidential primary calendar – a major blow to Iowa’s decade-long status as a state that leads out of the process.
In a letter to the Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking arm, Biden did not say which specific states he would like to visit first. But he has told Democrats he wants South Carolina to move into first place, according to three people familiar with his recommendations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The president’s direction comes as the DNC’s rules committee gathers in Washington on Friday to vote to shake up the presidential primary calendar starting in 2024. Members now hope to approve the new rules putting South Carolina first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day a week later.
Georgia and Michigan will move into the top five as early states, and each will hold primaries in the coming weeks, committee members said. The two battlegrounds were critical to Biden’s 2020 victory over then-President Donald Trump, who had won two states in his 2016 White House campaign.
Many other countries will vote as part of Super Tuesday soon after.
Such changes would come after years of calls from many top Democrats for the voting calendar to better reflect the party’s diverse base from mostly white Iowa, which is holding the state’s first caucus, and New Hampshire, which is holding its first primary. The new calendar still needs to be approved by the full DNC in a vote likely to come early next year, but the DNC will almost certainly follow the rulemaking panel’s recommendations.
The proposed order for the initial states was first reported by The Washington Post.
“For decades, Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process,” Biden wrote in a letter on personal stationery that did not bear the White House seal. “We rely on these voters in elections but don’t know how important they are to our nomination calendar. It’s time to stop taking these voters, and it’s time to give them a louder voice and earlier in the process.
He said the caucuses are “restrictive and anti-worker” because they require voters to “spend a lot of time” in one night gathering to vote for candidates in person, “disadvantaging hourly workers and anyone who doesn’t have the flexibility to go to the set. located at a certain time .”
That change could be implemented as soon as 2024 but would become meaningless until 2028 if Biden chooses to seek a second term.. The president has said for months that he plans to run again, and White House aides and Biden allies have begun staff and structural discussions for his preferred 2024 bid while refusing to take steps while the president weighs a final decision.
Such a shakeup would be seismic given that Iowa’s caucuses have swept the Democratic election calendar since 1976. However, it would come two years after a series of technical glitches caused the party’s results to be marred. that they prevented The Associated Press from declaring the winner of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus.
In the current Democratic calendar, Iowa has been followed by New Hampshire, which has held the nation’s first primary since 1920. Nevada and South Carolina have gone further since the 2008 presidential election, when the Democrats last overhauled the primary primary calendar.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, has decided to keep the Iowa caucus as the first contest on its 2024 presidential calendar, confirming that the GOP White House hopes – including Trump – will continue to campaign there.
South Carolina has particular relevance for Biden. victory in the primary of the first state-in-the-South in 2020 kickstarted his presidential campaign after finishing poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire on the way to win the Democratic nomination.
Dick Harpootlian, a longtime Biden ally, fundraiser and former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said Thursday that he and Biden discussed possible South Carolina developments on the eve of Biden’s 2020 primary victory there. Harpootlian said he was impressed with Biden that the state was a better place than Iowa to hold a presidential primary contest – which Harpootlian said Biden accepted.
“I think he agreed that this is a much more dynamic process,” Harpootlian said. “Iowa is just a nightmare.”
The DNC’s rules committee has been discussing rearranging the primary calendar for months, touching off a fierce battle among many states for first. In a joint statement Thursday night, Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell said, “We’ve always said that any path to the White House goes through the heart and President Biden understands that.”
But Biden’s desire has sparked outrage in New Hampshire, where state law calls for holding the state’s first primary and where officials have for months threatened to hold the election regardless of new rules approved by the DNC. Other states have previously tried to break party rules and jump closer to the front, only to be threatened that their delegates will not count towards the candidates chosen to win the party’s nomination.
Democratic Sen. New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen issued a statement blasting “the White House’s short-sighted decision,” while fellow Democratic Sen. New Hampshire Maggie Hassan said, “I strongly oppose the President’s deeply misguided proposal.
“But make no mistake,” Hassan said in a statement. “New Hampshire law is clear and our primary will continue to be the first in the nation.”
Kinnard reports from Columbia, SC Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.