COLUMBIA, S.C. — Inside the former Kiki’s Chicken and Waffle restaurant, dozens of volunteers from several states are calling undecided voters, helping supporters get to the polls, and trolling for even more volunteers in a massive operation statewide.
“We’re so busy, but busy is good,” Anita Brown, 71, said Saturday, a phone in hand.
The Akron, Ohio, resident is among a few dozen supporters “chasing the bell.” Whenever a voter is swayed to Clinton, whenever a voter promises to vote, whenever a new volunteer is signed up, the supporters slap a hotel counter bell. And the bell was ringing every minute this morning of the South Carolina Democratic primary.
Brown is busy dialing from lists of voters with her African-American friends. They share a table under an African Americans For Hillary sign in the state headquarters located in a strip mall.
As the Democrats’ South Carolina primary was underway Saturday, voters were lined up at polling stations an hour after the schools and public buildings opened.
“A lot of people have already gone to vote,” said Mary Sobah, 68, of Akron, Ohio. She was wearing three Hillary Clinton campaign buttons, but the largest was for President Barack Obama. Clinton has repeatedly talked about her onetime rival turned boss and friend after Clinton lost to him in 2008 then became his secretary of state.
Sobah and Brown have been in South Carolina for six days and they spent seven to eight hours a day bolstering the African-American vote that is expected to account for half the votes Saturday.
A sign hanging in the crowded, untidy work space tries to address challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders’ appeal to liberals and working-class whites, but has yet to attract large numbers of African-American voters.
“Build on Progress, don’t Bern it,” the sign stated.
“We just feel a buzz every day,” said Mike McCollum, 36, an African-American from Atlanta who has been among the full-time staffers who keep the Clinton campaign rolling in South Carolina.