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2020 hopeful Harris focuses on black women in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC – Kamala Harris is framing an upcoming campaign swing through early voting South Carolina around the voting demographic most sought after in the state’s Democratic primary: black women.

On Saturday, Harris’ campaign is teaming up with black female organizers and volunteers to canvass and hold a “woman to woman” phone bank for the California senator in South Carolina, officials said. They’re working with Higher Heights, the country's largest online political organization aimed at electing black women, which endorsed Harris this month and provided significant support during the 2018 midterms to candidates who helped usher in the most diverse Congress in history.

Later Saturday, Harris, the 2020 Democratic primary’s lone black woman, will hold a Columbia town hall her campaign says will focus on issues critical to black women, including equal pay, maternal health and investments in historically black educational institutions. On Sunday, she’ll visit South Carolina churches, rounding out several days of intimate, female-focused civic engagement that stands in contrast to some of the less personalized retail stops more frequently seen on the campaign trail.

Many Democratic hopefuls are courting South Carolina’s black voters. But Harris’ efforts underscore the emphasis that she is placing specifically on winning over black women, the Democratic Party's most loyal and consistent voters. Languishing in many polls, Harris has lagged with black voters, who comprise about two-thirds of the state’s Democratic primary electorate.

"I am fully aware that we are asking people to believe in something that they've not seen before," Harris said on a call with reporters this month, acknowledging the ground she needs to make up with black women. "This is the challenge I've faced in every office I've run for."

Harris, who on Thursday headlines an Atlanta event billed as a “Black Women’s Power Breakfast,” isn’t the only candidate focusing on black women this week. On Thursday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s white, plans to deliver a speech at historically black Clark Atlanta University on black women and the labor movement.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP