Joe Biden snagged the highly coveted endorsement of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) just days before the South Carolina primary. The endorsement from Clyburn, the highest-ranking black member of Congress, is thought to carry a significant amount of weight and influence with black voters in South Carolina and across the country.
I know Joe Biden.— Jim Clyburn SC-06 (@ClyburnSC06) February 26, 2020
I know his character, his heart, and his record.
Joe Biden has stood for the hard-working people of South Carolina.
We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us.
In South Carolina, we choose presidents.
I’m calling on you to stand with @JoeBiden.
While the broad assumption was that Biden would receive the endorsement from Clyburn, the House Majority Whip who was elected to Congress almost 20 years ago waited until the last minute before officially throwing his support behind the former Vice President. Despite a long history with Biden Clyburn said as recently as this past weekend that he was still deciding between Biden, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
Clyburn’s official endorsement announcement on Wednesday morning put an end to speculation that Biden might not be his first choice and gives the South Carolina front runner a much-needed breath of oxygen into a dying campaign. Biden’s once substantial lead in the south buoyed by his favorability among minorities had dwindled in recent weeks as socialist Bernie Sanders surged to early primary and caucus victories.
Biden, who commanded as the front runner in early polls since he entered the campaign almost a year ago, began a sharp decline once voting commenced. Though Biden admitted that his campaign wasn’t in the place it was a few weeks ago after the debate in Charleston on Tuesday night, a campaign spokesperson expressed strong confidence that Biden would be victorious in the Saturday primary. “We fully intend to win South Carolina,” said senior adviser Symone Sanders. “We feel great about our ground game. We have good ground game here. We’ve spent a lot of time in the state, we’ve invested a lot of resources in the state, and we think we will do extremely well.”
The former Vice President has traditionally had a strong relationship with minorities and has consistently polled well with African American and Latino communities where other leading candidates have struggled. Many analysts and Democratic Party operatives consider the primary in South Carolina, the final contest before Super Tuesday, to be one of the more important campaign milestones that could solidify a front-runner or end a campaign.
Biden’s campaign has struggled to regain footing after being knocked out of first place by a surging Sanders campaign. Biden has been plagued with highly publicized speaking gaffes and contentious encounters with media and other supporters, often seen losing patience while on the campaign trail and confusing facts about his experience and past. As a more traditional Democrat, Biden has not endeared himself to young voters who see Sanders’ socialist promises of single-payer health care and free education as more attractive options.