fbpx

Biden wins South Carolina Democratic primary

Politics

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential primary contest (all times local):

7 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won South Carolina’s Democratic primary.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he departs after attending services, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It was his first victory in three tries at the Democratic nomination, and it came during the fourth Democratic primary contest of the 2020 election season.

Biden’s win could work to blunt front-runner Bernie Sanders’ momentum heading into Super Tuesday, when 14 states and American Samoa weigh in on the race.

Only Biden and California billionaire Tom Steyer planned to mark primary night in the state, as the rest of the field stumped across the spectrum of Super Tuesday states that vote next week.

About 40% of voters in South Carolina picked health care as the top issue, while 22% said the economy and jobs are most important. That’s according to an AP VoteCast survey of the electorate. Fourteen percent of voters identified climate change.

Close to 9 in 10 Democratic voters said it’s important for their nominee to be a strong leader.

___

5:45 p.m.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn says it’s time for a major revamping of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign if the former vice president is going to be successful.

Clyburn announced his endorsement of Biden earlier in the week. But the South Carolina Democrat told CNN that “we will have to sit down and get serious about how we retool this campaign” following his state’s primary Saturday. If Biden wins the contest, Clyburn said, “many of us around the country will be able to join with him and help him get it right.”

He added, “You’ll see a massive difference in the campaign efforts.”

Clyburn is the highest-ranking black member of Congress and South Carolina’s Democratic kingmaker. He endorsed Biden in the hope of giving his campaign the boost it needed following earlier contests. Clyburn said Saturday that he’d had concerns about the campaign, including its lagging fundraising, but hadn’t felt comfortable addressing it before his endorsement.

___

4:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is using his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference to make fun of his Democratic opponents.

Trump on Saturday mocked Joe Biden’s gaffes, which include naming the wrong state he was campaigning in. Trump says the former vice president couldn’t be “easier to beat.”

Trump was impeached last year by the Democratic-led House after pressing Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter while putting a hold on military aid to the country. Trump was acquitted earlier this month by the Republican-led Senate.

Trump also mocked Mike Bloomberg, whom he frequently derides as “Mini Mike” for his stature. Noting Elizabeth Warren’s biting criticism of Bloomberg at the debate, Trump imitated Bloomberg wanting to get off the stage.

The president crouched down in front of the lectern, with just part of his face showing, and said, “Get me off this stage!” as the audience roared.

Trump’s speech came as Democrats in South Carolina headed to the polls to decide which candidate should be the party’s presidential nominee.

___

4:10 p.m.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren says a nondisclosure agreement concerning Bernie Sanders’ political advocacy group and a political consultant who alleged racial discrimination should be released.

Warren told reporters in Columbia on Saturday that, while she did not know the details, “my views on the NDA is to cover up the women’s stories here. I believe the NDA should be released.”

On Friday, The Associated Press reported that Our Revolution entered into a nondisclosure agreement with a black political consultant that bars her from discussing a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at the organization and the Vermont senator’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The consultant confirmed the existence of the nondisclosure agreement to the AP without providing additional details. Neither Warren nor Sanders planned to be in South Carolina Saturday night as votes were tallied in that state’s primary.

___

3:50 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is planning to a televised address on the coronavirus, promoting himself as someone with experience to reassure and protect the public.

His campaign said Saturday that Bloomberg will deliver a three-minute message on Sunday night on CBS and NBC. The taped address is titled “Leadership in Crisis” and will air at approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The campaign hasn’t said how much Bloomberg is paying for the commercial time.

In the address, Bloomberg is expected to discuss his “steady leadership” as mayor of New York to the threat of terrorism, as well as a hurricane, the West Nile virus and swine flu.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump’s update on COVID-19, following the first death from the virus in the United States. Vice President Mike Pence has announced new travel restrictions and warnings.

Trump said 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus, and four are deemed “very ill” and that additional cases are “likely.”

___

1:20 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says his success in the Democratic primary race means “the establishment is getting very nervous.” But he stopped short of predicting victory in South Carolina.

The Vermont senator on Saturday addressed thousands in Boston, near the home of presidential rival and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, declaring “this is a big crowd, whoa.”

He said the nation’s big banks, military industrial complex and prescription drug companies fear his campaign and “tonight they are going to turn on the TV and find that 10,000 people came out to the Boston Common and they are going to get even more nervous.”

Sanders said he’d defeat President Donald Trump in November because in “the cradle of democracy we are not going to let this country move to autocracy.”

That implies Sanders winning his party’s primary. But, even though he’s previously predicted a win in South Carolina’s primary, he didn’t repeat that in Boston.

___

12:50 p.m.

Tom Steyer says he feels good going into South Carolina’s primary vote and is ready for whatever lies ahead.

The California billionaire said while meeting with supporters and canvassers at his state headquarters in Columbia on Saturday that he has been energized by his campaign in the state and is making a commitment to foment change, regardless of the election’s outcome.

Steyer has been focusing most of his campaign’s efforts on South Carolina, where a high percentage of the Democratic electorate is black. He spent more time in the state than any other candidate, always mentioning his support for reparations and equalization of what he sees as race-based injustices in education, health care and the environment.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has led the polling in South Carolina, but Steyer has shown growing support.

At an election-eve rally on Friday night, he said he would be back regardless to focus on efforts including voter registration.

___

11 a.m.

Mike Bloomberg is making an appeal to suburban women as he campaigns in Virginia. Suburban women are a key demographic group for Bloomberg in a state that’s central to his Super Tuesday strategy.

The former New York mayor appeared at a Northern Virginia “Women for Mike” event Saturday and spoke about the influence women have had in his life, declaring that “all my success, everything I’ve done is thanks to the strong women that I’ve been lucky enough to have around me.” He touted his close relationship with his late mother, and said if she saw the crowds that came to his rallies, she’d tell him “don’t let it go to your head.”

Bloomberg went after President Donald Trump, charging that “he threatens women’s health and women’s safety with his policies,” and pledged to protect and expand women’s rights by eliminating wage discrimination and ensuring all Americans get 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Prior to speaking, Bloomberg was introduced by a woman he appointed to key roles at City Hall while mayor. She was joined onstage by a group of women who said they had worked with him for decades.

The event comes as the businessman has faced attacks from his primary opponents focused on allegations made in lawsuits by former employees that he fostered a sexist workplace culture and in some cases made crude and sexist remarks himself. Bloomberg has denied the allegations.

___

9:45 a.m.

Looking for victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, Joe Biden said the “bigger the win, the bigger the bump.” But as he visited a polling site in Greenville, South Carolina, the former vice president insisted he doesn’t have to win by a particular margin if he hopes to catch early delegate leader Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t think it’ll even be over after Super Tuesday,” Biden said of the 15 contests looming next week. “I think it’s going to go on to states that are ones that I feel very good about.”

Sanders has led voting in the first three contests, but Biden is the heavy favorite to win in South Carolina. The question is what kind of momentum that gives Biden heading into Tuesday, when mega-billionaire Mike Bloomberg will be on the primary ballots for the first time.

“There’s all kinds of analyses that suggest that he may cut into my base, he may not cut into my base,” Biden said of Bloomberg. “Michael’s gonna spend. I don’t know how much he’s spent already. … I just don’t know how it cuts.”

___

7:15 a.m.

Polls are opening across South Carolina as Democrats make their selections in the state’s presidential primary.

Voting is open on Saturday until 7 p.m. ET throughout the state. There are a dozen candidates on the ballot, although the slate of names was set before some dropped out of the race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has expressed confidence of victory in South Carolina, a state where he has long relationships and has led recent surveys. The state could be Biden’s first primary win in four tries at the White House.

There is no party registration in South Carolina, meaning Republicans — who have no primary here — are free to vote in the Democratic contest.

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”