Ex-vice president Joe Biden wins key endorsement ahead of South Carolina primary
Senator Elizabeth Warren dominated a key debate for the seven Democrats in fray for the presidential nomination Tuesday night ahead of the pivotal South Carolina primary, but former Vice-President Joe Biden picked up a crucial endorsement the morning after, bolstering his chances in the heavily African-American state.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner who is seeking to consolidate his grip on the race, was the target of attacks from all rivals who questioned his electability as a socialist, policies and, echoing a growing concern in the party, the impact his nomination will have on congressional races.
“I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight,” the senator said less than 15 minutes into the debate. “I wonder why.”
Warren attacked her rivals with the same studied aggression as in the previous debate, targeting billionaire Michael Bloomberg specially, But experts and commentators are asking if she can convert these performances into nominating contest victories — she finished a poor fourth in Nevada after dominating the debate in the lead-up to it. She has not come close to the top in any of the four caucuses and primaries held so far.
Warren is fighting to stay in the race, as former mayor Pete Buttigieg - who has fared better in the primaries with a tie and a close second finish; Senator Amy Klobuchar and billionaire Tom Steyer. Bloomberg has not contested any yet.
Biden finished second in Nevada. But he is hoping to take charge of the race as the frontrunner he had been for a month until upstaged recently by Sanders. Heavily black state of South Carolina is where he plans to turn around his fortunes, and picked up the endorsement Wednesday of Jim Clyburn, a senior and influential African American congressman.
“I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” Clyburn said, announcing his endorsement.
Biden needs a win in South Carolina, and he is facing questions he will stay in the race if he doesn’t. He has a double-digit lead in polls over his rivals in the state, but he has seen the gap shrink. Steyer, the billionaire, has put in a considerable amount of time and money there, his exchanges with Biden were noticeably sharp on the debate stage.
Sanders is seeking to expand his base, building on his emphatic win in Nevada, an ethnically and racially diverse state that is more representative of the country and the Democratic party than the white-majority Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that held the first two nominating contests.
All eyes are on the Super Tuesday contests on March 3, when 14 states hold their nominating contests.