COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After not breaking into the top three in the first two nominating contests of the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden said he feels good.
“It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started,” Biden told a crowd of supporters in Columbia on Tuesday night.
Biden came in fifth place in the New Hampshire primary but didn’t stay in the Granite State to thank supporters. Instead, he came to Columbia for what his campaign called a South Carolina launch party.
Biden’s pitch to Midlands Democrats is that his losses in Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t an indication of his chances to win the Democratic nomination. In fact, he implied he saw the loss in New Hampshire coming.
“When I announced, I pointed out that I thought we were way behind the eight ball in New Hampshire. You have two senators from neighboring states. Bernie won it by 20 points last time.”
His argument is that only two states have voted so far, and the voters have been mostly White.
“There’s no end of the line, [Iowa and New Hampshire] make up 2% of the delegate. Two percent. The only Democrats who have beaten an incumbent are Carter, Clinton, and Obama, and they got overwhelming support from the African-American community and the Latino community, and that’s been the support I’ve had my whole life,” he said.
It is worth noting President Barack Obama was not up against an incumbent president in 2008.
However, Biden’s support in South Carolina is waning.
According to a Post and Courier/Change Research Poll from May, Biden once held a more than 30 point lead in South Carolina. That same poll now has the former vice president with a five-point lead and Real Clear Politics shows him with a 12.5 percent lead on average.
However, a candidate with no political experience has been gaining on Biden over the past few months. Activist and Businessman Tom Steyer is polling at 18 points in that same recent Post and Courier Poll.
Before the New Hampshire primary, Steyer went after Biden on the debate stage over a statement by South Carolina State Senator Dick Harpootlian, who is a supporter and long-time friend of Biden who went to Iowa for the caucus to campaign for the former vice president.
On the stage, Steyer asked Biden to reject Harpootlian’s tweet saying S.C. Rep. Jerry Govan was being bought by the Steyer campaign. Some, but not all, of the members of the Legislative Black Caucus said the tweet was racist.
When Steyer demanded Biden would disavow Harpootlian’s statement, Biden told the audience, “I’ve already spoken to Harpootlian and he, in fact, is, I believe, sorry for what he said."
Biden didn’t say Harpootlian apologized, but told WIS, "I made it clear that he didn’t represent my views. He’s a good friend, but doesn’t represent our views. And he acknowledged that and said he would cease and desist.
“I know there's been a conflict that they've had in the Black Caucus with some. It hadn't changed any support for us in the Caucus.”
Harpootlian did not respond to a request by WIS for comment after the debate.
Biden also said he still has a lot of support from South Carolina lawmakers and South Carolina Democrats.
“The folks of South Carolina know who we are. We feel confident,” he said.