Joe Biden scored a major boost Wednesday when influential South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn endorsed him for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I want the public to know that I am voting for Joe Biden,” the fourth-ranking House Democrat and top-ranking African-American said at a news conference with Biden at his side. “South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden.”
Clyburn had widely been expected to endorse the former vice president, who he has known for decades. Still, his endorsement is a sign of confidence in a one-time front-runner who has fallen behind. Biden still leads in South Carolina polls, though his advantage has slipped following poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Clyburn is a unique force in South Carolina Democratic politics. He was key is securing his state’s position in the early stages of the party’s nominating calendar and he has an exhaustive political network across the state that he will mobilize to get out the vote. More than half of Democratic primary electorate is black.
Biden, visibly emotional, thanked the civil rights leader and praised his leadership. He recognized the power South Carolina has in the presidential nominating process, thanks to its early primary and diverse electorate.
“South Carolina chooses presidents. You launched my buddy Barack Obama to the White House. And I firmly believe once again on Saturday you hold in your hands, in South Carolina, the power to choose the next president of the United States,” he said.
“And I’m here, heart and soul, with everything I’ve got, to earn the support of the people of South Carolina. Nothing is expected or guaranteed. I hope I’ve earned it and I’ll continue until the last vote is cast to convince you all that I want to earn it.”
The Biden campaign contends that its comeback began with a second-place finish in Nevada and will continue in South Carolina, giving him momentum heading into Super Tuesday on March 3.
Biden led at 27% in an NBC News/Marist College poll of South Carolina Democratic voters released this week, with Bernie Sanders in second place at 23%. In another South Carolina survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, Biden led by 15 percentage points, 36% to 21%.
“Today people are talking about a revolution,” Biden said at the press conference in a not-subtle dig at front-runner Sanders who has called for just that. “What people are looking for is hope. Some reassurance.”
Biden’s campaign said that Tuesday was its best online fundraising day since launch but didn’t say how much it had raised.
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