The following story is brought to you courtesy of The Weekly Standard. Click the link to visit their page and see more stories
Joe Biden seems to have stemmed the bloodletting of his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign in Nevada temporarily, but it’s unclear what will happen in South Carolina next week and beyond.
Biden, 77, received 19% of Nevada’s county convention delegates in Saturday’s afternoon caucuses, with 4% of precincts reporting. Though the final vote tally and national delegate count are yet to be finalized, that performance puts him in second place — well behind Nevada winner and 2020 front-runner Bernie Sanders, 78, with 45%.
“Y’all did it for me,” he said in Las Vegas on Saturday evening, with one supporter yelling that he was “the comeback kid,” a nickname for former President Bill Clinton. “Now we’re going onto South Carolina and win, and then we’re going to take this back!”
The two-term vice president took multiple swings at Sanders, the Vermont senator, during his thank-you address.
“I ain’t a socialist, I ain’t a plutocrat — I’m a Democrat — and proud of it,” Biden said. “And I promise you, I wasn’t talking about running in the Democratic primary against him in 2012,” he added, referring to former President Barack Obama.
Biden needed a strong showing in Nevada, the third contest of the Democratic primary and the first in the West gauging voter sentiment among the state’s influential Latino community. The caucuses became even more important to him after his third White House bid took a beating in predominately white Iowa and New Hampshire.
The 36-year Delaware senator last week predicted a first- or second-place finish. His team had hoped his Nevada outing would help boost his electability argument, given how crucial minority Democrats are to the party’s general election chances. It was also pegged as an opportunity to build momentum and encourage donors to reach into their pockets as he and his staff prepare for South Carolina next Saturday and when 14 Super Tuesday states weigh in on the Democratic race three days later on March 3.
“This campaign is just getting started,” he told precinct captains at a training session in Las Vegas on Friday, echoing comments he made earlier this week.
After slipping in national polls, Biden’s status may worry establishment Democrats queasy about the prospect of Sanders, a socialist, continuing to rack up delegates as more center-left candidates compete to dominate a still-crowded centrist lane. Both the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 78, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 38, have warned of the dangers presented by center-left supporters not coalescing behind one contender.
“Drop out, Joe! Drop out, Joe! Drop out, Joe!” chanted hecklers at a Biden New York City fundraiser on Valentine’s Day.
Unlike some rivals who juggled stumping in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states, Biden went all-in on Nevada, where, unlike New Hampshire, he stayed for the results.
Though he failed to snag an endorsement from Nevada’s Culinary Union, he seemed buoyed by the support evidenced by larger crowds at his events, as well as public backing from the Las Vegas Sun and pop icon Cher.
“They’re not bad guys, they’re just not Democrats,” he said in Las Vegas of Bloomberg and Sanders, one example of his more assertive posture on the trail and in an uptick of national media appearances.
Now, Biden sets his sights on South Carolina, a must-win contest for him to stay viable as a White House hopeful.
“He needs to win South Carolina to demonstrate that his philosophy about the campaign is correct,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a kingmaker in the state, told MSNBC.