President Donald Trump is coming to Benedict College in downtown Columbia, South Carolina next week, multiple sources familiar with the situation tell this news outlet. Trump’s visit to the historically black school is scheduled for next Friday – part of a “bipartisan” presidential forum that will feature nearly all of this top tier 2020 Democratic rivals.
One source close to the South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) told us the presidential visit was “seventy percent” confirmed as of yesterday evening, while a Democratic source tracking the ongoing negotiations said Trump’s participation in the forum was confirmed by school officials for next Friday, October 25 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Shortly after our post on these speculations was published, reporter Emma Dumain of McClatchy DC confirmed the event through her sources – saying Trump’s decision to attend was “closely-guarded by organizers, who feared the president would either change his mind or alienate those who had already committed to attending or participating.”
Benedict previously announced the attendance of U.S. vice president Joe Biden – one of the Democratic presidential frontrunners – and several other aspiring candidates on its campus as part of a three-day “presidential justice forum.”
This forum is being sponsored by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center. So far, the organization has not included Trump as a listed participant in its promotion of the event – which will also feature U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, U.S. senator Kamala Harris of California, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and U.S. senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, among others.
The group claims it exists to “empower local leaders to implement innovative and practical solutions to problems in the criminal justice system,” using “an approach that is bipartisan and includes all relevant stakeholders.”
“We are the only nationwide coalition of Black Republicans, Democrats and Independents focused on criminal justice reform,” the group noted on its website. “By building bipartisan relationships and hosting solution-focused conversations, we are uniquely positioned to be a convener for criminal justice reform, activating relevant stakeholders to create solutions to injustice at the local level.”
(Click to view)
(Via: The White House)
The forum – dubbed “The Second Step” – will focus on following up in the aftermath of the “First Step Act,” a piece of criminal justice legislation signed by Trump (above) last December. Booker, Harris, Sanders and Warren all voted for this law, which made modest reforms to the federal criminal justice system in the hopes of reducing recidivism.
Criminal justice reform should be an interesting topic of conversation in South Carolina, particularly seeing as Benedict is situated just down the street from the increasingly violence-prone Five Points area of downtown. We wonder … will Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin, one of the hosts of this event, discuss how liberal judges (including his wife, S.C. circuit court judge DeAndrea Benjamin) continue putting criminals back on the streets?
Or is that component of “justice” – i.e. justice for the victims of violent crimes – not up for discussion?
We shall see …
Trump’s visit comes at a pivotal moment in the 2020 race. Impeachment fever has gripped the nation’s capital, and his Democratic rivals are furiously jockeying for position – against the president and each other.
It also comes as South Carolina Republicans are facing criticism – and a lawsuit – over a decision to break their own rules and cancel the 2020 “First in the South” Republican presidential primary as a sop to Trump.
According to our Republican source, Trump’s visit to Benedict had been under “back and forth” negotiations for the last six-to-eight weeks. Those negotiations were “thrown off” when Biden decided to attend the event, however.
“They have been discussing it for some time,” the source told us. “The Biden thing threw things off.”
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