Two former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden

A pair of former chairmen of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) - Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) and G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) - endorsed Joe Biden's 2020 bid this week, demonstrating the former vice president's strong ties to the black community.

Butterfield told The Associated Press in an interview published Thursday that he did not believe Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could win his home state of North Carolina in a general election against President Trump because their policies were too progressive. 

"[Biden] can connect with the average American - black, white or brown," Butterfield told the news service. "Warren and Sanders cannot win North Carolina."

"I have great respect for both of them, but they cannot win North Carolina. Joe Biden can," he continued. 

Cleaver said in a separate interview with the AP that he told Biden that states like Missouri would be must-win in 2020. 

"I told him, 'If you are the nominee, you have to campaign everywhere; you cannot surrender any geography to Mr. Trump,'" Cleaver said. "He assured me he will not do that."

Cleaver and Butterfield join former CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) in endorsing Biden. 

Biden has a strong lead with black voters in a number of polls, which will likely help him in the critical early primary state of South Carolina. 

Biden's deep support among African American voters could also hinder the 2020 campaigns of Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who are both black. 

Cleaver told the AP that he "struggled" with the endorsement decision, and said "there are others that I'm closer to" than the former vice president. 

"I have nothing negative to say about them at all. I hugged both of them Saturday night," he continued, referring to Booker and Harris at the CBC gala.