Clyburn endorses Biden ahead of South Carolina primary

House Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnThis week: Democrats face mounting headaches Clyburn on spending bill: 'I feel very comfortable that we're gonna get there' This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE (D-S.C.) on Wednesday endorsed Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit 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 SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis 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.