Crediting the endorsement of Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and the support of his African-American voters, former Vice President Joe Biden resoundingly celebrated the first presidential primary victory of his career Saturday night.
"Let's get back up!" Biden said to conclude his victory speech in Columbia, South Carolina, flanked by Clyburn. "We're decent. We're brave. We're resilient people. We can believe again. We're better than this. We're better than this president.
"So, get up, take back our country."
Biden's convincing victory, earning nearly 50% of the vote – compared to No. 2, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., (around 20%) – came thanks to the endorsement from Clyburn and support from African American voters.
"Thank you, South Carolina – my buddy Jim Clyburn, you brought me back!" Biden said to open his victory speech. "This is a man of enormous integrity.
"For all of those, you've been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign."
The victory for Biden, his first state primary victory in this his third presidential campaign, came at a tenuous time for him, he admitted.
"Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead," Biden said.
"Now, thanks to you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we've just won, and we won big because of you."
One campaign that is officially sunk is that of billionaire Tom Steyer, who ran third in South Carolina, barely cracking double digits (just over 11%). Steyer ended his campaign after the poll results came in.
Pete Buttigieg (around 8%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., (around 7%); and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., (around 3%); did not reach double digits.
Trailing Sanders before Saturday night – and perhaps still in the delegate count – Biden took the lead in the popular vote through four states. He also took a jab at his top competition as not being a true Democrat, nor having a chance at beating President Donald Trump, capitalizing on being an Obama Democrat and the popularity that comes with it.
"If the Democrats want a nominee who's a Democrat – a life-long Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama/Biden Democrat – then join us!" Biden said. "We have the option of winning big or losing big. That's the choice.
"We need to build on the coalition of legacy of the most successful president of our lifetime, Barack Obama."
Biden's win came at a do-or-die moment in his 2020 bid as the moderate Democrat bounced back from underwhelming performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The race pivots immediately to a new phase when 14 “Super Tuesday” states take the campaign nationwide early next week.
Biden's allies almost immediately cast the South Carolina victory as proof that he should stand as the clear alternative to Sanders. Standing in Biden's way is former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, who has spent more than half a billion dollars courting voters in dozens of states yet to vote.
The South Carolina primary was the first major test of the candidates' appeal among black voters. And while it gave the 77-year-old Biden a win when he most needed it, he must still prove that he has the financial and organizational resources to dramatically expand his campaign in the next 72 hours. He will also be under pressure to rely on his decades-long relationships with party leaders to create a new sense of inevitability around his candidacy.
Even before news of Biden's win was declared, Bloomberg announced his own plan to deliver a three-minute prime-time address Sunday night on two television networks. He didn't say how much he paid for the air time, which is unprecedented in recent decades.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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