Sanders and Booker Celebrate MLK Day in Early Primary State of South Carolina

MLK statue
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January 21, 2019

Senators Cory Booker (D, N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) are spending the Martin Luther King Day holiday in South Carolina, the state that would hold the fourth caucus or primary in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Both are assumed to be in the process of deciding to run for president, or have already decided but simply haven't announced.

In 2016, Sanders surprised rival Hillary Clinton and political watchers with his showing in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, but then got trounced in South Carolina by a 73-26 spread.

"[South Carolina is] important because it's the first state that these candidates will get an opportunity to vet their message with a population that reflects the heart of the Democratic Party, which is African-Americans and specifically African-American women," former state Democratic chair Jamie Harrison was quoted as saying in Politico.

If Sanders does launch a presidential run, most political observers and pundits agree it would be absolutely essential for him to perform better in the state next year.

"Several South Carolina Democrats said they've taken calls from Booker and Harris in recent weeks, and some have met with the potential candidates during recent stops to the state," the Politico report noted. "Booker will hold private meetings with local activists and leaders again on Monday."

Earlier on Monday, California Senator Kamala Harris announced her presidential candidacy on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Meanwhile, former vice president Joe Biden spent part of the MLK holiday in New York with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg who is also considering a run. Both attended a breakfast hosted by Al Sharpton's civil rights group, the National Action Network.