Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday remembered Ernest F. Hollings as “a giant in this state and nation” who evolved to “write the great story of our times.”
Speaking at the funeral of Mr. Hollings, the former South Carolina senator who died this month at 97, Mr. Biden hailed his longtime friend and former colleague, a one-time segregationist, as the embodiment of this state’s growth.
“People can change,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Hollings, who was known as Fritz, adding, “We can learn from the past and build a better future.”
Mr. Biden’s trip here marked his first visit to an early nominating state this year and came just a week before he is expected to make his long-anticipated entry into the Democratic presidential primary.
His somber appearance at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college and Mr. Hollings’s alma mater, was not the 2020 debut the former vice president and his aides were planning. But his eulogy underscored Mr. Biden’s deep ties to this pivotal state with its high percentage of black voters — and the promise and peril of his candidacy.