By Zeke Miller | Associated press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday that Democrats should ditch “restrictive” caucuses and move to champion diversity in the order of their presidential primary schedule, dealing a blow to Iowa’s decades-long status in as the first voting state.
In a letter to the regulatory arm of the Democratic National Committee, Biden did not mention the specific states he would like to see come first. But he told Democrats he would like to see South Carolina move to the top of the schedule, according to three people familiar with his recommendation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
He recommends that Michigan and Georgia move into the top five states, replacing Iowa, according to two of those people.
The letter comes as the DNC’s rules committee is meeting Friday in Washington to consider upending the timing of presidential primaries beginning in 2024. If the rules-making committee follows the president’s recommendations, as expected typically, that would be a major shake-up for a primary. schedule, which began with caucuses in Iowa, followed by New Hampshire holding the nation’s first primary.
“For decades, black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but were pushed back early in the primary process,” the president wrote in a letter on personal stationery that did not bear the seal of approval. the White House. “We rely on these voters in elections, but we have not recognized their importance in our nomination calendar. It’s time to stop taking these voters for granted and give them a stronger, earlier voice in the process.
He added: “Our party should no longer allow caucuses as part of our nominating process.”
That means Iowa is likely on the verge of losing a position it has held for more than four decades after technical meltdowns marred the results of the 2020 caucuses. There has also been greater party pressure to let a more diverse state go first.
South Carolina holds special significance for Biden: His victory in the state’s first primary in the South in 2020 launched his presidential campaign on the path to the Democratic nomination.
Biden’s advice has sparked anger in New Hampshire, where state law requires him to hold the nation’s first primary.
New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen released a statement lambasting “the White House’s short-sighted decision.” New Hampshire Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan said in a statement, “I strongly oppose the president’s deeply flawed proposal, but make no mistake, New Hampshire law is clear and our primary will continue to be the first in the nation.”
Kinnard reported from Columbia, SC Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York City contributed to this report.
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