Former Vice President Joe Biden’s blowout South Carolina win reshaped the Democratic presidential campaign and positions him as the surging moderate alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a 48-hour sprint to Super Tuesday.
Joe Biden wins South Carolina primary
And it might just have helped him — after 50 years of thwarted presidential promise and personal tragedy — to strike an emotional register that steadies a meandering campaign and finally exemplifies his core argument: He’s the best Democrat to take on President Donald Trump.
Biden’s resilience cemented the core ideological struggle at the center of this year’s Democratic primary. After four contests, Sanders is rising on a coalition of young, liberal voters, energized by rising support among Hispanics. Biden now vaults to the top of a more racially diverse, older and moderate wing of the party, after struggling to power up a campaign that looked stronger in theory than practice.
The issue for Democratic leaders is that, to beat Trump, both wings of the divided party must unite and there is little sign that any candidate can appeal to both sides at the same time. That raises the possibility of an extended Democratic delegate duel that splits the party on race, ideology and age — and preserves the chance of a contested convention in July.
Biden has been running for president on-and-off for 33 years, but never celebrated a winning night until Saturday’s thumping 30-point victory in a primary candidates have used in previous cycles to launch themselves towards the nomination.
In his victory speech, perhaps for the first time, he effectively conflated the agonies of his own life — after burying a young wife and two children, suffering a life-threatening brain aneurysm and flaming out in two previous White House campaigns — with a party and a nation he believes have been battered by a mendacious president.
“For all those of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind — this is your campaign,” Biden declared.
“We’re decent. We’re brave, we’re resilient people. We can believe again. We’re better than this, we’re better than this president. So, get up, take back our country. This is the United States of America.”
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