Saturday's first-in-the-South primary could be a pivotal moment for many of the candidates, especially Biden, who is counting on his projected landslide win here to reinvigorate his candidacy ahead of Super Tuesday.
Also on the ballot were Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was not in the running as he decided to skip the first four nominating contests.
"I kinda like some of the stuff he’s talking about," Anderson said. "But he won’t be as strong against Trump."
"To me, it’s not really a strong, strong, Democratic candidate — somebody that you feel can beat Trump," Lewis said. "You know how Trump operates, he uses guerrilla tactics. Trump has a personality that none of them have."
Anderson said he didn’t vote in 2016 because he didn’t like Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and he may not vote this year either. He said if candidates spent more time in shops like this one, maybe he would vote.
"The barbershop plays a big role in the black community — from clothes, style, sports, politics. Maybe they should try to get more in tune with barbershops to understand what we care about," he said. "I want to hear less about who they are and more about the issues."
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jennifer Clyburn Reed, the middle daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, has become a one-woman welcoming committee for ambitious Democrats in South Carolina.
She visited a historic marketplace with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and small businesses owned by black women with Sen. Kamala Harris, set up informal meet and greets with voters and attended campaign events for each of the 12 different Democratic presidential candidates when they visited the state. Three campaigns asked outright for her endorsement.
Clyburn Reed’s father, after all, is the senior ranking black American in Congress.
James Clyburn, a Democrat who joined Congress in 1993, has endorsed three presidential candidates since that time: John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and, now, Joe Biden.
The potential influence he and his family wield in South Carolina is apparent to anyone in the state with a television set. Clyburn Reed’s son Walter Clyburn Reed has appeared in a Pete Buttigieg campaign ad, where Clyburn Reed describes his grandfather as his hero.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — As Democrats begin to lose patience with the size of their 2020 presidential primary field, one candidate could be poised to seize attention with an unexpected finish Saturday.
Tom Steyer, the California activist billionaire who has largely been a nonfactor in the primary campaign so far, is on track to finish in the top three in South Carolina's contest, according to recent polls, potentially depriving former Vice President Joe Biden of the strong finish he needs to reclaim momentum.
Many Democrats eyeing the general election are eager for underperforming candidates to get out of the way, but few have provoked more annoyance than Steyer, who has invested particularly heavily in South Carolina, with a focus on racial justice and climate issues.
"A lot of Democrats feel as though it's time for Steyer to get out," longtime Democratic operative Karen Finney said. "There's a real frustration that his money could be spent helping us win because it's pretty obvious to most people that there's just not a path for him. And Democrats are becoming increasingly anxious that it's time to start coalescing."
But despite being one of the Democratic Party's single biggest donors in recent elections, Steyer has a long history of going his own way. For instance, he spent millions pushing for President Donald Trump's impeachment over the vocal objections of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Steyer said he doesn't much care what "the Democratic establishment" thinks about his strategy and called the idea that he's a spoiler for Biden "a crazy statement."
On the South Carolina airwaves: Negative ads and appeals to black voters
WASHINGTON — With just one day to go until South Carolina's pivotal Democratic presidential primary, the Palmetto State's ad wars are heating up.
Philanthropist and billionaire Tom Steyer has blanketed the state to the tune of $20 million in television and radio ads in South Carolina this cycle, according to Advertising Analytics. That's more than the rest of the Democratic field combined.
Far behind him, but ahead of the rest of the pack, is former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has spent $2.4 million. (While former Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't on the ballot in South Carolina, he's running $2 million in ads in adjacent states that bleed onto the airwaves in South Carolina.)
Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign has spent $700,000; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has spent $690,000; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has spent $580,000; Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has spent $500,000; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has spent $470,000.
And Super PACs supporting Klobuchar, Warren and Biden have spent $980,000, $590,000 and $110,000 respectively.
Everything you need to know about South Carolina's primary
The 2020 primary race is heading to South Carolina for the nation's First in the South nominating contest.
The South Carolina primary tests candidates' strength with black voters, who made up nearly two-thirds of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016.
The state also boasts a nearly-perfect track record; since Democrats in the state first used a primary in 1992, every winner except for one has gone on to win the Democratic nomination. The exception: Neighboring-state favorite John Edwards, who won South Carolina but ultimately lost the nod to John Kerry.
5 things to watch in the South Carolina primary: A moment of truth for Joe Biden
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Democratic primary here on Saturday will determine whether Joe Biden’s campaign is alive and kicking, or whether another candidate can lay claim to being the strongest challenger to national front-runner Bernie Sanders.
South Carolina is the first majority-black primary electorate on the calendar — about 60 percent in 2016 — and the winner in four out of the last five contests since 1992 has gone on to capture the party’s nomination (the exception, John Edwards of neighboring North Carolina in 2004, ended up as the vice presidential pick.)
The primary comes three days before the immensely important "Super Tuesday" contests, and Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar are all jockeying for position.