Buttigieg to attend MLK Day event in South Carolina after facing criticism

Buttigieg to attend MLK Day event in South Carolina after facing criticism
© Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE will attend an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event hosted by the NAACP in South Carolina after facing backlash for his decision to skip it. 

Buttigieg had originally been slated to attend an event in his hometown of South Bend, Ind., where he served as mayor, but announced late Saturday that he would also attend South Carolina’s King Day at the Dome rally. 

“The South Bend community has always been at the heart of Pete’s campaign for president, which is why he planned to attend an MLK event there Monday. But he also wants to make clear his commitment to earning the support and trust of every voter in South Carolina, including those of the African-American community who consistently serve as the base of our party,” Buttigieg’s South Carolina communications director said in a statement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“Pete looks forward to being with the citizens and leaders of Columbia to commemorate the 20th anniversary of King Day at the Dome,” the communications director added.

Buttigieg was reportedly not on the list of presidential candidates slated to attend the event when it was released. 

Former South Carolina Rep. Bakari Sellers (D) called it “disrespectful” for candidates to miss the event but did not call out Buttigieg or others by name. 

“I’m putting this out there. Candidates skipping King Day at the Dome is disrespectful AF. You don’t miss an Iowa steak fry,” he tweeted Friday. 

“Look, your not just speaking to black folk in SC you’re speaking to black folks throughout the South. I’m disappointed. It’s like you don’t care,” he added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Candidates scheduled to attend the march and rally at the South Carolina Statehouse include former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE (I-Vt.), and Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Klobuchar, Steyer unable to name Mexico's president in pointed interview Sunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk MORE, according to The Associated Press

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll Yang: NYC should implement universal basic income MORE's (D-Hawaii) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickCandidates in Obama's orbit fail to capitalize on personal ties Trump seeks split-screen moments in early primary states Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll MORE's (D) campaigns also said they plan to attend, according to the AP.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Judd Gregg: Bloomberg rising MORE’s (D-Minn.) communications director, Tim Hogan, tweeted that the senator will be attending a prayer service Monday in South Carolina as well as the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum the same day. 

“Unlike some of the candidates she has an early speaking time in Iowa and was trying to change it so she could do both,” Hogan said. 

Buttigieg’s support in South Carolina has not been as strong as it has been in several other early nominating states. He has struggled to build support among African American voters, a key voting bloc of the state's Democrats. 

A Fox News poll of South Carolina voters released earlier this month found Buttigieg at a distant fifth place in the race, with 4 percent support. Biden led the field with 36 percent support, followed by Steyer at 15 percent, Sanders at 14 percent and Warren at 10 percent. The same survey found Klobuchar polling below 2 percent. 

The South Carolina primary will take place on Feb. 29. It’s the last primary before the Super Tuesday states will vote on March 3.