By Steve Holland
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Reuters) – President Joe Biden spoke about his religious faith at services on Sunday at an African-American church in South Carolina, as he works to bolster Black support likely to prove crucial to his re-election chances in November.
Biden, a devout Catholic, was wrapping up a two-day visit to the state, where Democrats will hold their first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 3.
At Saint John Baptist Church in Columbia on Sunday, Biden sat next to U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, whose support for Biden in 2020 was crucial to his winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
At the end of the service, Biden spoke from the pulpit, saying, “In my life, I’ve tried to walk my faith.
“Here’s what I’ve learned: We’re all imperfect beings. We don’t know where faith is going to take us, or when it’s going to take us. … But we can do our best to seek the light, the hope, the love. Where I come from, that’s the power of faith,” he said.
While Biden will win South Carolina’s Democratic primary contest easily, his aim is to boost Black turnout nationwide and hope that minority turnout will help give him an edge in closely fought states over his Republican opponent, likely to be former President Donald Trump.
White Christian evangelicals have flocked to Trump, and some evangelical leaders see Trump’s pursuit of a second term as a mission ordained by God.
Biden arrived on Saturday in Columbia, visited a Black-operated barber shop and spoke at a dinner attended by African-American leaders on Saturday night before Sunday’s church visit.
The president has been getting mixed reviews from some Black voters who backed him in 2020, including discontent over his failure to deliver on voting rights legislation and other issues.
Biden helped move the Democrats’ first-in-the-nation primary to more diverse South Carolina this year, ending the nominating contest roles played by Iowa and New Hampshire in recent decades.
The Republican party, however, stuck with its tradition of holding its first nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)
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