Clyburn endorses Biden ahead of South Carolina primary

House Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnTop GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Pelosi: House 'not prepared' to vote remotely on coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-S.C.) on Wednesday endorsed Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention MORE’s presidential bid, giving the former vice president a much-needed boost just three days before Democrats in South Carolina head to the polls. 

“I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record,” Clyburn tweeted. “Joe Biden has stood for the hard-working people of South Carolina. We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us. In South Carolina, we choose presidents. I’m calling on you to stand with @JoeBiden.”

Clyburn, a 27-year veteran of the House, is among the most influential Democrats in South Carolina. Biden has been courting the congressman’s endorsement for months, and the announcement on Wednesday is likely to help cement the former vice president’s strong support among many of the black voters that will play an outsize role in the Palmetto State’s nominating contest on Saturday.

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Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden is not particularly surprising, given that the two have a relationship spanning decades. Nevertheless, the announcement is likely to boost Biden’s support and fundraising ahead of the South Carolina primary, which could very well make or break his presidential prospects.

Speaking at an event in North Charleston on Wednesday, Clyburn said that he had known for a long time whom he would support in the presidential race. But it wasn’t until last week, he said, that he decided to make his choice known publicly.

“I want the public to know that I’m voting for Joe Biden,” he said. “South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden.”

The endorsement is a major vote of confidence for Biden at a critical time in his campaign. After lackluster finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, and a distant second-place finish in the Nevada caucuses last weekend, the former vice president is in desperate need of a win in South Carolina to power his presidential bid into Super Tuesday and beyond.

Aides and allies of Biden have long pointed to South Carolina as a firewall for his campaign, given his strong support among black voters, who make up a majority of the state’s Democratic electorate.

But recent polls show a tightening race in the Palmetto State between Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Schumer: Administration 'must move heaven and earth' to implement new unemployment benefits Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search MORE (I-Vt.), who has largely supplanted the former vice president as the frontrunner in the Democratic nominating contest after back-to-back wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.

In his remarks, Clyburn pointed to Biden’s deep connections in South Carolina and its African American communities as the reason behind his endorsement.

“I can think of no one with the integrity, no one more committed to the fundamental principles that make this country what it is than my good friend, my late wife’s great friend Joe Biden,” Clyburn said.