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South Carolina Congressman Clyburn Seeks To Give Jacksonville Millennials Reasons To Vote Clinton

Ryan Benk
U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (South Carolina) makes his case for Hillary Clinton in Jacksonville Monday.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the highest-ranking black House member, stopped in Jacksonville Monday to rally African-American support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to a mostly-baby boomer crowd, Clyburn said the campaign has to do more than talk about Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“We’ve got a good case as to why we should not be voting for Trump. That’s not our problem. The problem is the campaign is too close in Florida, in Ohio, in Virginia, now it’s closer in North Carolina and Pennsylvania – these battleground states. Why? It’s because we have not done a good enough job of telling people why they should be voting for Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Clinton is enjoying a post-debate bump nationally, and in Florida where the latest Quinnipiac University poll has her leading by five points. But last month, a Washington Post poll found nearly half of Trump voters were “very enthusiastic,” while only a third of Clinton voters were. The Real

Clear Politics aggregate of national polls shows Clinton leading Trump by less than three percentage points.

Clyburn pointed blame for that enthusiasm gap at millennials, who overwhelmingly backed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary.

“We cannot allow this campaign, this candidacy of Hillary Clinton, to be defined by the primary,” he said.

Clyburn told the crowd of older voters that they should be responsible for informing their younger counterparts and providing guidance on why Clinton is the right choice.

The Democratic nominee has been facing extra scrutiny among younger voters for leaked comments she made at a private fundraiser during the primary. According to the online political magazine Politico, Clinton told supporters that the Sanders’ “political revolution” is a “false promise” and described herself as in between the center left and center right.

“There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn't gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know, go as far as you know, Scandinavia — whatever that means — and half the people don't know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel,” said Clinton about six months ago.

Clyburn said her phrasing could’ve been better and that she “short-circuited,” borrowing from Clinton’s own excuse when pressed about her private email server.

Former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders also defended the comments, saying millennials were living at home because the current economic system left them behind.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.