Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday secured the endorsement of James Clyburn, an influential black congressman from the early-voting state of South Carolina, which could prove pivotal to his White House bid, Reuters informed.
Biden, once the presidential front-runner nationally, was among the Democratic White House contenders campaigning in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s primary.
Clyburn’s endorsement carries weight in a state where black voters make up about 60% of the Democratic electorate. Biden is counting on his traditional strong support from black voters there after a fourth-place finish in Iowa, a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire and securing second in Nevada.
“I’m here, heart and soul, with everything I’ve got to earn the support of the people of South Carolina. Nothing is expected or guaranteed,” Biden said at the news conference where Clyburn announced his endorsement.
Clyburn, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress, said of Biden he could “think of no one with the type of integrity, no one more committed to the fundamental principles to make this country what it is than my good friend.”
Most of the Democratic presidential candidates kicked off Wednesday with speeches at a breakfast hosted by the National Action Network, founded by civil rights leader Al Sharpton. The event focused on mobilizing black churches to get out the vote.
The candidates acknowledged the sharp jabs they threw at each other hours earlier – when they repeatedly attacked front-runner Bernie Sanders as a risky choice to lead the party in November – but pledged to eventually unify behind one candidate.