House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE has been surging in recent South Carolina polls because the billionaire candidate is spending money on ad buys throughout the state.
"I've always said money is a mother's milk of politics," Clyburn said on CNN's "State of the Union," when asked about Steyer's rise.
"He has money and he has been spending it, I think that will always make a difference."
Steyer, a billionaire philanthropist, did not perform in the top tier of the race in the first two nominating states, but he has staked much of his campaign on how he does in South Carolina.
Recent polling has shown Steyer in third place in the state, compared to support just above 1 percent nationally.
Similarly, Clyburn said on Sunday that former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWithout drastic changes, Democrats are on track to lose big in 2022 Bidens, former presidents mark 9/11 anniversary The tragedy of 9/11 — an inflection point in American history MORE, a billionaire self-funding his presidential campaign, has been able to rise in the race based on the money he's spending on his campaign.
"Where was Bloomberg nationally among voters a month ago? But he has money, he has been spending it, and he's changed the calculations," Clyburn said.
"For us to just pretend money doesn’t make a difference what would be fool hearted," he added. "Money makes difference. Steyer has it he's been spending and he's reaping the rewards."
Clyburn has said he will not publicly endorse a candidate before the South Carolina debate, which will be held days ahead of the Feb. 29 primary.
He said his decision will not be based on who he thinks will win in this state, but rather whom he supports.
"I would never pass my support upon whether or not I think that person would win the state," Clyburn said.