Eyeing a South Carolina victory to rescue his presidential ambitions, Joe Biden claimed one of the state's most coveted endorsements on Wednesday as Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders marched past the blistering assault from his rivals on the debate stage the night before. And Pete Buttigieg, a leading critic of both Biden and Sanders, canceled multiple events on the day saying he was sick.
The developments came just three days before South Carolina's presidential primary election - and six days before Super Tuesday - with the Democratic establishment growing increasingly concerned that Sanders, a polarizing progressive, is tightening his grip on his party's presidential nomination. Biden is staking his candidacy on a win in South Carolina on Saturday that would deny Sanders a third consecutive clear victory. He got a boost Wednesday after earning the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking black member of Congress and a South Carolina political kingmaker.
The intensity of Tuesday's forum, with candidates repeatedly shouting over each other, reflected the reality that the Democrats’ establishment wing is quickly running out of time to stop Sanders' rise. Even some critics, Bloomberg among them, conceded that Sanders could build an insurmountable delegate lead as soon as next week.
The South Carolina contest offers the first real look at the influence African American voters play in the Democrats’ presidential nomination process. Biden is trying to make a big impression in in the state, where he was long viewed as the unquestioned front-runner because of his support from black voters. But heading into Saturday’s primary after three consecutive underwhelming finishes, there were signs that the former vice president’s African American support may be slipping. One reason: Tom Steyer. The billionaire activist has been pouring money into African American outreach, which threatens to peel away some of the support Biden badly needs.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll preview the South Carolina primary on Saturday and talk about the role the African American vote will play in both that race, in the California primary next week, and in the general election in November.
With files from the Associated Press
With guest host Lisa Napoli
Jamie Self, senior editor of politics and government at The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina; she tweets @jamiemself
Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta where her courses and research cover African American politics and political participation; she tweets @AndraGillespie
Dan Schnur, professor of political communications at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine; founder of the USC/Los Angeles Times statewide political poll; he’s the poll director for the California Community Poll