After giving Joe Biden his coveted endorsement earlier this week, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is going to bat for his pick, noting that billionaire Tom Steyer is picking off votes that would have belonged to the former VP.
“There’s no question about that,” Clyburn told ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast when asked if he thinks Steyer was taking away support from Biden. “[Biden] was getting 52%…54% of the African American vote, then all of a sudden that started to drop down in some cases to the 30s. Another reason I spoke up…I wanted people to know that it ain’t over til it’s over.”
During the podcast, Clyburn revisited his reasons for picking Biden as his candidate, noting how much his late wife, Emily, who passed away in September, admired Biden’s politics.
“We talked about this campaign. We talked about the future of this country. We talked about who we thought would be the best person to be president, the best person to take on [President] Donald Trump,” Clyburn noted “And we felt very strongly that it was Joe Biden.”
Still, even though he said “it was easy” to choose Biden over all the other candidates, he still grappled with vocally offering support, until a community member called him out about wanting to know his opinion and who to vote for.
And Clyburn’s opinion certainly does matter. As House Majority Whip, he is the highest-ranking African American in Congress.
And with South Carolina being one of the most diverse states voting so early, and with about 60% of the Democratic electorate there being Black voters, his endorsement goes a long way to securing a win for any candidate.
“That was a pretty moving experience for me, and I decided then and there that I would be very public with my endorsement and do whatever I could to help educate those people in the public who may be torn as to who they want to vote for,” he said.
Clyburn also took some time on the podcast to talk about why he thinks a different order should be tried when it comes to early voting.
Iowa being first is fine, but Clyburn advocated for Iowa and Nevada to hold their caucuses on the same day while New Hampshire and South Carolina hold their primaries on the same day.
Clyburn pointed out that “it was unfair” for a candidate to win in Iowa and New Hampshire (with their lack of diversity in the voting pool) and develop momentum. Meanwhile, South Carolina is the last of the early states to vote ahead of Super Tuesday.
“By the time you get to South Carolina, where you’ve got a significant presence of African Americans, then the momentum has already been turned against you, the fundraising capability has begun to dry up and then we end up getting a candidate that will need African Americans at a much higher percentage in the general election,” Clyburn said. “But you have not exposed yourself to them in the primary.”