Transcript: Rep. Jim Clyburn on "Face the Nation," Feb. 18, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina airing on Feb. 18, 2024.

ROBERT COSTA: Welcome back to “Face the Nation.” We go now to Congressman Jim Clyburn. He’s in Santee, South Carolina. Congressman, good morning. Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having me. 

ROBERT COSTA: Congressman, you are a longtime confidant of President Biden, when you look at his reelection campaign right now, you’re optimistic, I know. But what’s your biggest concern? What keeps you up at night politically?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, the thing that keeps me wide awake, are the misinformation efforts that are underway throughout this campaign. I’ve heard so much from people share to me things that just aren’t true. So much from people who seem to feel that everything they see or hear via the internet has some substance to them. And so that’s the thing that keeps me up – whether or not we’re going to have a campaign for the presidency, free of all of these interruptions, and all of the misinformation. We saw what happened in 2020 and what happened in 2016. And I think that we’re going to look forward to a whole lot of that going on in this campaign. If we can minimize that, we will maximize Joe Biden’s reelection, and our continuous pursuit toward a more perfect union. These things are threats to our freedoms, and our democracy. And we must do whatever we can, if not to eliminate, certainly minimize them.

ROBERT COSTA: What specifically are you speaking about?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, we remember what happened up in New Hampshire, when people using AI replicated the voice of Joe Biden, and put things out over the air that were not true. We’ve already seen some of that taking place here in South Carolina regarding the Republican primary, and inviting Democrats into the primary, saying things over the air that just are not true. And that is going to happen over and over again, throughout all of these states. And I do believe it will be very, very prevalent in the general election this year. 

ROBERT COSTA: So you’re worried about how information is received by voters, how they understand this campaign. But what about turnout? You’ve seen how the Biden administration’s support for Israel and its war with Hamas has sparked some protests at events across the country. Are you concerned that Democratic turnout could be soft among some young voters and others because of the Biden administration’s position on that issue?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, I’m concerned about the issue like everybody else is. I’m concerned about what’s going on in Russia. And I think that all of that is part and parcel of the same thing. And of course, we’re hearing from a lot of people who are concerned about what is happening currently, with the leadership in Russia with what’s going on with the Ukraine war, what’s going on in Israel with the Gaza Strip. All of these are big concerns that all of us have. But when you have these concerns, you’re looking for people who can lead us through this stuff. And nobody is better equipped to do that, than Joe Biden. He is- has the experience. He has the wisdom. He has the demeanor, he has the relationships. He has what it takes to get this country to where it needs to be, and to maintain the relationships we need to have with our allies around the world. That you’re not going to find on the other side of the aisle. And that’s why I feel that it is necessary for this country to rally around the reelection of Joe Biden.

ROBERT COSTA: You said he should stay steady with U.S. allies, when it comes to Israel, should he stick with his position on Prime Minister Netanyahu, or perhaps rethink that relationship?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, I’m not too sure that we know exactly what their relationship is with Netanyahu. I’ve talked to the president about this. And, of course, he is not going to be public with everything he says to Netanyahu. But I know this. He feels about the way I feel when it comes to Netanyahu. He is- his leadership has not been good for Israel. We stand firmly with the people of Israel, but I’ve always had a real problem with Netanyahu and that continues to be today.

ROBERT COSTA: You say you have a problem with Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and you say you’ve spoken to the president privately about this. Does he have a problem with Netanyahu?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: I’ve shared with the president what my feelings are about Netanyahu. He is going to develop his own feelings about that –


ROBERT COSTA: But does he agree or disagree with your assessment, Congressman?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Well, he’s accepted my assessment. I have not asked him whether or not he agreed with me. In fact, I just let them know. This is the way I feel. I’m not running the country. You do what you feel is in the best interest of the country. And we know that they’ve been having some discussions of late. And I’ve seen it written that he has said to Netanyahu, some things that I would say to him, we’ll see what happens in the end.

ROBERT COSTA: You famously told then candidate Biden in 2020, that he should nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court that helped him get your endorsement helped win over many black voters. What does President Biden need to do now to make sure black voters come out in the same way they did for him in 2020? Does he need to do anything specifically? And does he need to make a new pledge? And what should that be, if so?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: He should continue to manage the country, the way he’s managing it. He made that pledge. And it was a timely pledge, because all of us know what the history of the country is. And up to that point, there had been five women on the Supreme Court, and not a single time had an African American woman ever been seriously considered. And so I thought that that’s what needed to be done, in that particular instance. No, I would say to him, keep doing what you’re doing. You have demonstrated with your rescue plan you’ve demonstrated with your bipartisan infrastructure bill, you demonstrated it with your minimum, minimizing the cost of medicine for senior citizens and to negotiate with Medicare, for Medicare. These things are the things that the African American community is very, very interested in. But all communities are interested in this. So keep doing what you’re doing. And we – your, what I call your validators out here – are going to start doing our part to get your message out there.

ROBERT COSTA: Congressman, you are running for reelection, but leaving the Democratic leadership, you’re 83 years old, President Biden is 81. How should he handle the issue in question of age in the coming months?

REPRESENTATIVE CLYBURN: Emphasize your experience, emphasize the wisdom, maintain your connections with folks. I’m on my way to New York this evening. I wish the weather were different up there, but I’m going. I’ll be in Pennsylvania real soon, North Carolina, and Georgia, carrying the president’s message of experience of a steady hand of maintaining our trek toward a more perfect union. Doing the things that are necessary to maintain our relationships around the world and move this country forward, on behalf of all. I am fond of saying, this is a great country in no need of being made great. We just got to figure out ways to make this country’s greatness accessible and affordable for all of our citizens. And Joe Biden is doing that. And we have got to stay focused on that.

ROBERT COSTA: Congressman Jim Clyburn, thank you. We appreciate it. We’ll be right back.

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