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Clyburn votes

Congressman Jim Clyburn prepares to cast his absentee ballot for the June 12 Democratic primary at the Orangeburg County Voter Registration Office on Thursday. A scheduling conflict made it necessary for him to vote absentee, he said.

Congressman Jim Clyburn believes that while there are grounds to impeach President Donald Trump, Democrats also have to be focused on other things.

“Even if the House were to impeach Trump, you have to have 67 votes in the Senate to convict. That’s not going to happen,” Clyburn said.

He said the Democrats should not focus solely on impeaching Trump.

“Let’s concentrate on getting people registered. Let’s concentrate on getting people to participate. Let’s concentrate on turning Trump and all of his sympathizers out of office,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn discussed state and national politics last week as he voted absentee at the Orangeburg County Voter Registration and Elections office. The Republican and Democratic primaries are June 12.

He believes the Democrats can become the majority party in both the U.S. House and Senate.

“I think the way things are shaping up, people are getting a real good look at what the various parties are standing for,” Clyburn said.

The values of Americans are the same as the values of the Democratic Party, he said.

“I think that the vast majority of the American people are in line with the values being displayed by the Democratic Party as well as the proposals we are offering for the future,” Clyburn said.

He questioned the "change" that Americans voted for in the 2016 presidential election.

“In the last election, so many people said they voted for change,” Clyburn said. “They’re getting a good opportunity to see what change looks like."

“We voted for change and we got change. But the question is, was the change for the better? The vast majority of the American people are now saying, 'No it wasn’t,'” he said.

Clyburn added, “The experiment is now over, and I think people are going to sit down, look at the candidates, look at the parties and vote for a real, solid, progressive move towards the future."

He believes that if the Democrats become the majority party, it will help the country.

“I think the first thing ... is that we will return sanity to the governmental process,” Clyburn said. “We will return stability to communities and to families and, quite frankly, to the country."

“We will be a check on an administration that seems to be really experimenting with a throwback to years gone by,” he said.

The results of the June 12 primary will determine who will represent the Democratic Party in South Carolina’s gubernatorial race.

Clyburn has endorsed S.C. Rep. James Smith as his choice to be the next governor.

“The Smith family has been a part of my political efforts ever since I started running for statewide office, which was 1978,” Clyburn said. “His parents were very involved in my campaign. As a young man, he was very involved in my campaign."

Clyburn said he's been watching Smith since he came of age and entered politics, "and paying close attention to his votes."

“I’ve always been impressed with James,” he said. “I just felt that he would be a tremendous governor if he could get elected. But it went to a different level when he resigned from public life, when he gave up his commission and responded to 9/11 in the way that he did.”

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Smith resigned his commission in the National Guard and enlisted as an infantryman. In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry officer and received the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart.

“I just saw something in him that told me that he put country above self and he put progress above politics. I just knew then that what I have been watching is what I would want my son to be if I had one,” Clyburn said.

He said his youngest daughter, Angela Hannibal, was the final reason that led him to endorse Smith.

“She wanted to get involved in a campaign this year. I asked, 'What campaign are you interested in?’ I thought she was going to say mine. But, she says ‘I’m interested in working for James Smith,’” Clyburn said. “So here’s my youngest daughter seeing in this young man what I saw in him as a child."

Charleston businessman Phil Noble and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis are also seeking to become the Democrats’ nominee.

Clyburn, who has been in Congress since 1993, said several factors will determine how long he will serve.

“My health is good. I feel fine. Most days I can still play 36 holes of golf without any real trepidations. I don’t hit the ball as far as I used to, but I don’t see anything barring me from continuing in office,” he said.

Clyburn noted, however, that his wife Emily has had some, “trials and tribulations with her health, and we talk about that often.”

“She’s made it very clear to me that her challenges are different from my challenges, and both of our challenges are different from the state’s and country’s, and that we have to keep things in the proper perspective,” he said.

“For as long as she says I ought to continue in the office, constituents continue to demonstrate faith and confidence in me and my children continue to show pride in what I’m doing, I’ll continue in office,” Clyburn said.

“I’m not going to let anything else make that determination.”

Clyburn said he voted absentee because he has to work the day of the June 12 Democratic Primary.

“To me, voting is important,” the congressman said, recollecting a time when voting wasn’t possible for him or his parents.

“I remember when my parents were not allowed to vote over in Sumter where I grew up,” Clyburn said. “I remember how my dad conducted himself when he first registered to vote."

“When I first registered to vote, I was a public school teacher,” he said. “You couldn’t register at 18 when I was coming along. At 21 years old, I was teaching school. I was a public school teacher, but not able to vote. Something was wrong with that."

"There is no excuse for not voting,” the 6th District congressman added.

“If you don’t participate, then you ought not to complain when things happen that you don’t think should happen,” Clyburn said.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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