Former Vice President Joe Biden is claiming no candidate deserves to win the Democrat nomination without the support of “black and brown” voters after his own crushing defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire—two majority white states.
Speaking to supporters in South Carolina, where he retreated after defeat in New Hampshire was all but assured on Tuesday, the former vice president said the first two nominating contests were meaningless because of their lack of diversity.
“It is important that [Iowa and New Hampshire] have spoken,” Biden told supporters. “But look we need to hear from Nevada and South Carolina and Super Tuesday states and beyond.”
The former vice president proceeded to argue the campaign was now just entering an “important phase,” because the most committed constituencies within the Democratic Party were about to have their say.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent, that’s the percentage of African American voters, who have not yet had a chance to vote in America,” Biden said. “One more number, 99.8, that’s the percent of Latino voters that haven’t had the chance to vote.”
Taking a shot at “all the pundits, experts, and cable TV-talkers” that had pronounced his campaign dead, the former vice president urged people of color to stand up and show that “it ain’t over.”
“We’re not going to let anyone take this election away from you,” Biden said. “Look, I’ve said many times you can’t be the Democratic nominee and you can’t win a general election as a Democrat unless you have overwhelming support from black and brown voters.”
The remarks come shortly after Biden was handed two crushing defeats in the time span of less than a week and a half. First, the former vice president flopped in the Iowa Caucuses, garnering fourth place and barely any delegates. The loss was all the more bruising as Biden and a Super PAC working on his behalf spent millions in the closing days of the contest in hopes of averting disaster.
That loss was followed up by a fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, further diminishing the former vice president’s electability argument. Even though the defeat was expected, regardless of predictions made otherwise by Biden as recently as November, many were surprised by just how poorly the former vice president placed. Although results have yet to be finalized, Biden’s inability to break 10 percent among New Hampshire voters all but ensures he will not receive any delegates from the state.
Biden’s lackluster performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, where white Democrats are a majority of the voting base, has forced him to lean even more heavily on his support from the black community. The support is nowhere more important than South Carolina, where African-Americans make up two-thirds of the Democrat electorate. Until recently, the state looked to be a firewall for the former vice president that could offset losses in other early nominating contests.
With the rise of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, however, Biden’s position in South Carolina and with black voters in general looks more precarious.
The former vice president, though, seems to like his odds, especially as he still leads Steyer in the Palmetto State and Bloomberg, who is facing renewed scrutiny over his advocacy for stop-and-frisk, is not on the ballot until Super Tuesday.
“You all know you own my heart,” the presidential hopeful told the crowd in South Carolina on Tuesday, before again asserting “you shouldn’t be able to win the Democratic nomination for president without black and brown voters.”
“Too often your loyalty, your support, your commitment to this party have been taken for granted. I have never once in my career… [have] taken it for granted,” he added. “And I give you my word as a Biden, I never, ever, ever will.”