LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 02: Democratic presidential candidate, former U.S Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the 2020 Gun Safety Forum hosted by gun control activist groups Giffords and March for Our Lives at Enclave on October 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nine Democratic candidates are taking part in the forum to address gun violence one day after the second anniversary of the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman killed 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Jolt: In South Carolina, Joe Biden remains Trump-proof, poll indicates

President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie Joe Biden to unsavory – and highly unsubstantiated – activity in Ukraine have fueled a U.S. House impeachment inquiry, but appear to have done little damage to the Democratic presidential candidate in the key state of South Carolina.

Thirty-seven percent of Democrats in that state said they support the former vice president, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.

Support shoots up to 46% among African-American Democrats. The South Carolina standing of other candidates:

-- U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 17%;

-- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, 8%;

-- U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, 7%;

-- the remaining 15 candidates, under 5%.

The survey, which has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points, is important on several counts. First, the Winthrop Poll was conducted from Sept. 21 to Sept. 30, when news of the House Democratic impeachment inquiry dominated the airwaves and cable TV – and when Trump’s accusations (again, unsubstantiated) against the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden were a prominent part of that coverage.

Then there is the fact that while Warren has inched into the lead in polls conducted in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Biden campaign continues to point to South Carolina as its firewall.

Next year, South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary will be the first in the South, and the first contest in which candidates will face large numbers of African-American voters.

One month later, on March 24, Georgia Democrats will get their chance. Given our larger urban centers, candidates such as Warren can count on doing better here. But in the 2018 primary, African-Americans comprised 60% of Democratic voters -- an important fact to keep in mind.

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Also in the Winthrop Poll: 53% of South Carolina Democrats say reparations are warranted “for the harm caused by slavery and other forms of racial discrimination.” (69% among African-American Democrats, 33% among white Democrats.)

On the topic of Confederate monuments, South Carolina Democrats were divided thusly:

-- Leave them just as they are, 15%;

-- Leave them, but add a plaque or marker for context and historical interpretation, 23%;

-- Move them to a museum, 46%;

-- Remove them completely, 12%.

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As mentioned earlier this morning, Matt Lieberman, the son for former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, has entered the Democratic race for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Johnny Isakson later this year.

The centerpiece of Lieberman’s roll-out is a two-minute video in which Lieberman, who moved to Georgia in 2005, displays an understated historical alliance with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

In the video, an Abrams campaign sign flashes on the screen as Lieberman says:

“Last year, here in Georgia, we were given hope. For that hope to become change, we need to make sure that every vote is counted.”

Then an image Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic nominee for president, appears. Next to him is his running mate, Joe Lieberman. Says the son:

“To me, it’s personal. In 2000, I watched as the Supreme Court stole the election and changed the course of history. We need a voting rights act for the 21st century.”

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The Ocilla Star tells us that state Sen. Tyler Harper, a Republican from Irwin County, has joined 500 or so other applicants interested in U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat.

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As U.S. Sen. David Perdue was talking with American Red Cross officials during a tour of a sparkling facility in Douglasville on Wednesday, he used a phrase that caught our attention: He mentioned his “good friend Michelle” and her nonprofit.

That would be Michelle Nunn, the executive director of CARE who was Perdue’s Democratic opponent in 2014. This was no stray comment; it’s the second time we’ve heard Perdue lavish praise on his rival in recent weeks.

So we asked him how the two ex-competitors became friends. Said Perdue:

“I thought a lot of Michelle when she was running. I watched what she had done for the foundation for George H.W. Bush. She’s got a good heart and a great mind, a great family. I revere her father, Sam Nunn. I mean, he’s an icon. He grew up in Houston County, where I grew up, and I watched him grow, watched what he did over 24 years in the Senate. And he and I work together today, a good bit …

“I admire what Michelle’s doing right now at CARE. Our political beliefs are just so different that I had to compete with that. But when in America did it ever get to be that if we disagree on something politically, or from a religious viewpoint, that we had to hate each other? I don’t understand that. And all of a sudden, now because of some things that happen at the national level, we’re all so polarized.”

Keep in mind that, if Perdue is to be re-elected, Georgia’s soon-to-be-senior senator will need to do better than fellow Republican Brian Kemp did in last year’s gubernatorial campaign -- especially in north metro Atlanta and especially among college-educated women.

Perdue has similarly made a habit of saying nice things about U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, with whom he’s worked on funding for historically black colleges and universities.

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has drawn the ire of farm groups for implying small farms in the dairy industry may be headed for extinction.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” the former Georgia governor said at a recent dairy expo in Wisconsin. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

The comments, first reported by the AP, weren’t exactly the most sensitive. The wire service notes that the state has lost more than 550 dairy farms so far this year.

That’s an important fact when considering that keeping Wisconsin in the GOP column is an important part of President Trump’s re-election strategy.

Perdue’s remarks drew a rebuke from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

“Many small and medium-scale family farms are struggling to hold on to their businesses and to their families’ legacies amidst one of the worst downturns in the farm economy in over three decades – a downturn caused in part by this administration’s policy choices…

“Instead of shrugging about presumed inevitability, the secretary should be leading the charge to develop a rational policy framework and strategy to promote economic opportunity across farming and rural economies.”

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Perdue is also receiving pushback from the Congressional Black Caucus – which counts U.S. Reps. John Lewis, Sanford Bishop, David Scott, Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath among its members – for his department’s move to tighten food stamp eligibility rules. The proposal, the group of 55 lawmakers wrote, is “cruel” and will “push struggling families and children further into poverty and we strongly urge USDA to rescind it immediately.”

More background from the New York Times: 

The department was changing the rules to prevent “abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement in July when the proposal was released.

The Agriculture Department’s own analysis estimated that more than three million people would lose their benefits and 500,000 children would lose access to free school meals if the government moved forward with tightening a rule that now offers families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families automatic eligibility for food stamps, even if they have higher incomes and asset accumulation. The rule the department seeks to change allows people with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level — about $50,000 for a family of four — and more than $3,500 in assets to receive food stamps.

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