2020 campaign trail runs through churches in South Carolina

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — By now, most Democratic presidential candidates have polished their stump speeches. But when they’re in South Carolina, they may need to add in a sermon.

In a large and diverse primary field, White House hopefuls are angling to develop relationships with black churches.

That’s because success in South Carolina, home to the nation’s first Southern presidential primary, could come down to connecting with politically influential churchgoing African Americans.

Some 2020 candidates are already working to build their relationships with this community, holding events in fellowship halls and visiting congregations for Sunday services, as Sen. Kamala Harris of California will do this weekend in Columbia.

The visits allow candidates to introduce themselves. They can also potentially elevate their standing with voters if they secure an official endorsement from church leaders.

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