So what winners look like. With a radiant smile, Joe Biden takes the stage with his wife Jill and daughter Ashley on the stage in South Carolina’s capital Columbia. Nearly half of the South Carolina electorate voted for him in the Democratic primary that day. The big competitor Bernie Sanders came second, roughly thirty percentage points behind. “We won and we won big,” Biden calls out to his cheering supporters.
What follows is not just a normal victory speech, but a highly emotional appearance, which many observers will later call Biden’s best speech in this election campaign. Visibly moved, the former vice president talks, among other things, about how hard his son Beau’s cancer death had hit him, how much he despised President Trump’s divisive words, and how great his hope was for a better future in America and the world. He, Joe Biden, stands for “dignity, decency, and respect”.
It is a triumph with an announcement. The success in South Carolina was literally conjured up by Biden. After voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, which was so disappointing for him, it was clear: the election in the southern United States had to be won by a large margin to give a political signal of life. South Carolina, it was said from the Biden camp, again and again, was the “firewall”. Now it is clear: the wall has held.
Anyone who has observed Biden in the past few days has seen a politician who had accepted the fight for his last chance. Biden seemed more dynamic than in the other states and seemed to enjoy the encounters with the base. “If I die, I want to be born again in Charleston,” he had said a few years ago. In the campaign in South Carolina, he gives his own quote at the best opportunity.
Bernie fans react with a mixture of clapping and boos.
The decisive factor for Biden’s success on this day is undoubtedly the voices of the African Americans, who make up almost sixty percent of the voters in South Carolina. At the latest when popular black MP Jim Clyburn called for Biden’s election during the week, the experts agreed that it would be a straightforward matter. In post-election surveys, almost half of the respondents stated that they had been influenced by Clyburn’s recommendation.
The fact that it won’t be an even bigger landslide victory for Biden is mainly due to Tom Steyer, who comes in third place with well over ten percent. The 62-year-old businessman had barely appeared in the previous primaries but had invested heavily in campaigns in South Carolina. His demand for reparations to slave descendants also earned him a lot of sympathy among black voters.
“Meeting you and all the other people in America is the highlight of my life,” says Steyer in the evening in Columbia. It is the point at which he announces to drop out of the race. “Honestly, I see no way to win the presidency.” At first, he does not reveal whether he will support another candidate.
“Everyone has to ask whether there is still a chance for their candidacy”
Interesting: While Biden and Steyer spent the election evening in South Carolina, the rest of the campaign caravan had long since moved on. Elizabeth Warren speaks in Houston, Texas, Pete Buttigieg in North Carolina, Amy Klobuchar in Virginia. All of them have had disappointing results in South Carolina.
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