Former Vice President Joe Biden secured the critical endorsement of longtime South Carolina Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Monday, leading up to the first southern contest of the Democratic primary.
According to Politico, multiple sources confirmed that the No. 3 Democrat and highest-ranking African-American in the U.S. House of Representatives will publicly back the former vice president three days before the primary where more than half of the electorate consists of black voters.
Until now, Clyburn, who has been longtime friends with Biden has refrained from backing any particular candidate in the crowded field only offering kind words for Biden with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Some Democrats with direct knowledge of the endorsement told Politico that they view the decision to back Biden ahead of the candidate’s life-or-death primary “as a last-ditch effort to blunt Bernie Sanders’ momentum,” before clinching the Democratic nomination in July.
Clyburn, the paper reported, was already seriously considering an endorsement for Biden but was pushed to do so after Sanders’ big win in the western caucus.
On Saturday, Sanders carried Nevada with nearly 47 percent of the vote, while Biden came far behind with little more than 20 with 96 percent of the precincts reporting.
With Super Tuesday looming large next Tuesday, the Biden campaign’s survival hinges on South Carolina following poor performances in the first three contests of the primary this far. In Iowa, Biden placed a distant fourth and fared no better in New Hampshire with a disappointing fifth-place finish behind Sanders, Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in second, Klobuchar in third and Warren in fourth. In the middle of election day, Biden even flew to South Carolina and addressed supporters in the Granite State through a live stream.
Clyburn’s endorsement for Biden could be what the campaign needs as a leader in the African-American community to maintain and even turn the tide of an increasingly narrow lead ahead of Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer who have begun to capitalize on Biden’s campaign fallout.
According to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls, Biden still stands in first place with almost 25 percent support followed behind by Sanders with almost 22 percent and Steyer with nearly 17.