Rep. James Clyburn, the House’s No. 3-ranking Democrat, on Tuesday evening cautioned 2020 presidential contenders on using a 1994 crime bill supported by then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden as a dividing line in the Democratic primary contest.

“I would caution my friends getting ready for the next election to be very careful,” the South Carolina Democrat said on CNN. “Let’s not be too unkind to people who find common ground on things and remember, no matter who is in the majority, they may not be there tomorrow.”

Mr. Clyburn said he wished some people would “do a little more research” to see how things ended up as they did.

“The fact of the matter is, we on the Democratic side did a yeoman’s job in putting in the kind of prevention programs, the preventive funding in the bill,” he said.

“And we got to understand: on the punitive side, the Republicans wanted that and we found a compromise that everybody could live with,” he said. “All of a sudden, our Republican friends took out the prevention stuff, doubled down on the punitive stuff, and because they were in the majority, they were able to prevail.”

Mr. Clyburn is a hugely influential Democratic figure in the early presidential state of South Carolina, though he has said it will be a long time before he endorses a candidate, if he does so at all ahead of the state’s primary contest.

Some of Mr. Biden’s 2020 rivals, such as Sen. D. Kamala Harris and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have criticized the crime bill, saying stiff new penalties helped usher in an era of “mass incarceration.”

Mr. Biden has defended the legislation and said that’s not the case.

President Trump also jumped into the fray this week, saying anyone associated with the 1994 bill “will not have a chance of being elected.”

“Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing. That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!” the president said on Twitter.

© Copyright (c) 2019 News World Communications, Inc.

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