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President-elect Joe Biden taps SC's Jim Clyburn to lead inaugural committee

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Election 2020 Joe Biden (copy) (copy)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden talks to Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 after winning the South Carolina primary. File/Gerald Herbert/AP

COLUMBIA —President-elect Joe Biden picked U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn to be the chairman of his inaugural committee Monday, rewarding the veteran South Carolina congressman for helping lift him to the Democratic presidential nomination with a valuable endorsement days before the Palmetto State's crucial primary earlier this year.

Clyburn, D-Columbia, will oversee what is expected to be a scaled-down version of the quadrennial inauguration ceremonies due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Biden said Friday he plans to have a largely virtual inauguration, similar to the Democratic National Convention in which most participants spoke from remote locations.

While Clyburn leads the committee as chairman, he also will work with four co-chairs, all of whom share similarly close relationships with Biden: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.

In a statement shared first with The Post and Courier, Biden said he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris "are honored and grateful to these leaders for joining our inaugural committee as co-chairs and helping to organize a safe inauguration for all Americans."

"These leaders reflect the strength, spirit, and diversity of America and have always held a steadfast commitment to restoring the soul of the nation, building back the middle class, and unifying the country," Biden said. "We are proud of their support and know they will help plan an inauguration that will reflect our nation’s shared values."

Clyburn said he was proud to be a part of history as chairman of the committee.

"This will be one of the most important inaugurations in America’s history as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn-in as our next President and Vice President of the United States and prepare to tackle the great crises and challenges facing our country," Clyburn said.

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"The peaceful transfer of power surrounding the inauguration is a bedrock of American democracy that represents our nation’s highest ideals," he added. "This inauguration will show the country and the world something I have always known: we know Joe, and Joe knows us."

While Biden was the longtime frontrunner in South Carolina's Feb. 29 Democratic primary, Clyburn's endorsement after Biden failed to win any of the three prior states is credited with boosting him to a landslide victory, which in turn propelled him to a dominant performance on Super Tuesday.

Presidents-elect typically turns to close allies for help with their inauguration. President Donald Trump's inaugural committee chairman in 2017 was Tom Barrack, a real estate investor and longtime friend. 

Since Biden won last month's election, Clyburn has been advising him during the transition on potential Cabinet picks and other staffing moves, but he has said he does not personally have any desire to leave his current role as U.S. House majority whip.

Clyburn has been particularly supportive of making longtime friend Jaime Harrison, who lost in South Carolina's U.S. Senate race last month, the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Harrison was previously the S.C. Democratic Party chairman and a staffer for Clyburn.

Biden's inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

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