CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Sunday he chose South Carolina to deliver an apology for his controversial remarks about segregationist senators because he wanted to offer it to an audience most likely to have been offended by his words.
Kamala Harris, a rival for the Democratic nomination who sharply criticized Biden for those remarks and his views on federally mandated busing, used her campaign trip to the state Sunday to praise Biden for apologizing.
South Carolina looms large over the early months of the Democratic contest because it is fourth in line behind Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada in voting for a nominee, is the first state in the South to vote, and has the largest African American electorate in the early states. As the state is a test of black support, both Biden and Harris as well as other Democrats have been addressing African American issues during campaign visits to the state.
The criticism of Biden began last month after he recalled how, as a young senator from Delaware, he worked on some issues with two Southern Democratic segregationists in the U.S. Senate even though they agreed on little, offering that period as an example of a long-ago time of civility and himself as a consensus-seeker.