Biden’s primary triumph lifts lagging domination bid

Source:AFP Published: 2020/3/1 17:03:40

Former vice president Joe Biden notched up a resounding win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, reviving his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and positioning him as the leading rival to frontrunner Bernie Sanders.

Seven Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Michael Bloomberg (1st from left), Bernie Sanders (4th from left), and Joe Biden (3rd from right), participate in the 10th Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The victory, powered by support from African American voters, was the 77-year-old Biden's first in the race and may give him momentum going into "Super Tuesday" next week, when 14 states go to the polls.

"Just days ago the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead," Biden told hundreds of supporters at a victory rally in the South Carolina capital Columbia.

"You've launched our campaign on the path to defeating Donald Trump," he said.

"We have the option of winning big or losing big," Biden added in a dig at Sanders' prospects against Trump in November's election.

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Biden had 48.4 percent to 20 percent for the 78-year-old Senator Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist." 

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who spent a whopping $23 million on advertising in South Carolina, was next with 11.4 percent but announced he was quitting the race even before the final results were published.

Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has been challenging Biden for the centrist vote, had eight percent while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had seven percent.

A victory in South Carolina, where African Americans make up around 60 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, was seen as crucial to Biden's hopes of reviving his flagging campaign.

Sanders has been the clear leader in the overall race, winning two of the first three contests and finishing in a virtual tie in Iowa with the 38-year-old Buttigieg.

South Carolina was seen as a key test of Sanders' support among African Americans - crucial to a Democratic victory in November - but he only received the backing of around 15 percent of black voters while Biden received 60 percent according to exit polls.

Biden finished fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and second in Nevada. Despite his South Carolina win, Biden may well face a Sanders buzzsaw on Super Tuesday.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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