22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry

22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry
© Stefani Reynolds

Twenty-two Democrats running for president in 2020 will attend House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) fish fry in South Carolina next Friday as they jockey for support in the early primary state.

The event is likely to be the largest gathering of the 2020 candidates so far this election cycle, as nearly the entire primary field will attend. The fish fry, founded 30 years ago, has steadily grown into a campaign staple every four years and comes shortly before the first primary debates later this month.


“Each candidate will be given a generous moment to address the audience. The candidates are then encouraged to enjoy the fried fish, join in the electric slide and take selfies with the attendees,” a press release for the event said. 

The only major contender of the 24-candidate field to not have confirmed their attendance is Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBullock says Trump should be removed from office Biden, Warren tied for lead in Iowa poll The Hill's 12:30 Report: Hunter Biden speaks out amid Ukraine controversy MORE

The fish fry is scheduled around several other major events in the Palmetto State, including the Democratic Party Blue Palmetto dinner, the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and a Planned Parenthood Action Fund forum. 

South Carolina’s primary is crucial for candidates to put up an early showing of support, particularly among African American voters, who make up 61 percent of the state’s primary electorate.

The contest has particularly high stakes for Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCampaign aide replaces Trump with Kamala Harris in viral 'meltdown' photo Warren raised more money from Big Tech employees than other 2020 Democrats: Report Poll: Biden, Warren support remains unchanged after Democratic debate MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerFormer public school teacher: Strikes 'wake-up call' for Democratic Party First-generation American launches Senate campaign against Booker 2020 Democrats tell LGBTQ teens they're not alone on Spirit Day MORE (D-N.J.), the only two black candidates in the field. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump accuses Biden of 'quid pro quo' hours after Mulvaney remarks Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense MORE is also hoping to leverage his connection to former President Obama to gin up support with black voters. 

A poll from The Post and Courier last month showed Biden with a 31-point edge over his nearest primary competition.

“It's not a surprise to me because black people go with their with history. They have a relationship with Biden, and they believe in them,” Clyburn said in an interview with NPR published Friday

Beyond interacting with primary voters, candidates are likely to try to ingratiate themselves with Clyburn, who is widely viewed as a Democratic kingmaker in the state. But he’s vowed to withhold his primary endorsement this cycle.