Former Vice President Joe Biden is urging his rivals for the 2020 Democrat nomination to drop out if they fail to attract adequate support from black voters in the South Carolina primary.
Biden, who is hoping a strong win in the Palmetto State can resuscitate his candidacy, made the remark during an interview with The Post and Courier on Wednesday.
“They would have to consider dropping out, not because I want them to or anybody else does, but because the victories and losses are going to dictate it,” the former vice president said during a campaign swing through Georgetown, South Carolina.
“How do you stay in if you have demonstrated you can’t get any African American support?” he added. “How do you stay in if you don’t get support in South Carolina? So I just think the process is going to take care of that.”
Biden’s urging comes as his campaign struggles to remain viable after crushing defeats in the first three nomination contests. 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.
The pattern of back-to-back losses was continued when Biden scored second place in the Nevada Caucuses last week. Although Biden’s campaign tried to spin the loss positively, the results were signifanctly below the expectations the former vice president, himself, had set for the state.
Biden’s lackluster performances in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada have forced him to lean all the more heavily on South Carolina, where black voters make up two-thirds of the Democrat electorate. The former vice president seems to hope that a resounding win there, powered by the affinity African Americans voters have with the Obama administration, will be enough to put his campaign on a trajectory to become the establishment alternative to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Until recently, South Carolina, by Biden’s own admission, looked to be a firewall that could not only stabilize his campaign, but also boost it heading into Super Tuesday. With the rise of billionaires environmentalist Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, however, that pathway looks all the more precarious.
Recent polling out of South Carolina shows Steyer and Sanders surging in South Carolina, as black voters have begun expressing serious doubts about Biden’s electability. Complicating matters for the former vice president is that Bloomberg, while not competing in South Carolina, is poised to give Biden competition for the black vote on Super Tuesday.
Biden, for his part, appears unfazed, arguing that his standing among black voters in South Carolina will be enough to secure victory, at which point the field will have to winnow, increasing his chances at the nomination.
“I’m still here,” the former vice president said on Wednesday. “And now that process is going to start for others, as it should, and I feel good about my prospects in that circumstance.”