What a difference a week makes! Joe Biden was all but written off after several lackluster debate performances and too many to mention gaffes. In four days we saw the greatest example of stars aligning to resurrect a political campaign and bring it back from the dead. How did it happen?
Four primaries had come and gone and Biden was barely able to place in the top five. Then came South Carolina. Biden and his team knew they had to have a strong performance there.
The money was drying up. If they wanted any shot of convincing donors that they were backing the right horse this was where they had to prove it. Who better to vouch for his candidacy and give him the desperately needed vote of confidence to relay to the African American Democratic base in that state than Jim Clyburn.
James Clyburn (D) has represented the sixth district in South Carolina since 1993. He is presently serving as the Democratic House Majority Whip and has been in that leadership role since 2019. Several days prior to the South Carolina primary being held, Clyburn announced his support for Joe Biden. Why is this important?
If you look at the election results from that night you will see that approximately 56% of the voters were black and Biden received 60% of that vote.
When a man like Jim Clyburn, whose decades-long tenure of being the face of those he represents tells his community they should support Joe Biden, they listen, and the results speak for themselves.
During his acceptance speech, Biden made it a point to thank him for his support by saying, “ my buddy Jim Clyburn – you brought me back!”
That night was the catalyst for what would be the most impressive political comeback in modern times, if not ever. Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer staked his entire presidential aspirations and millions of dollars on his performance in South Carolina. He said if he didn’t perform well there he would suspend his campaign. The voters spoke and he finished the night in third place behind Bernie Sanders who came in second. True to his word, he dropped out of the race.
That was on Thursday.
The following Sunday Pete Buttigieg said he saw no path to victory and suspended his campaign. Not to be outdone in the quitter’s circle, the following day Amy Klobuchar suspended her campaign and immediately backed Joe Biden.
What gives? Why the sudden cold feet for two political rivals whom weeks before outperformed the former Vice President in several of the preceding primaries? What made them give up all they had worked so hard for over the past year just to take a back seat to someone who finally got their first primary win after coming up short in the prior four?
Two words – Party Loyalty.
Super Tuesday is where the rubber meets the road. It’s when a third of all delegates are up for grabs for the Democratic Party. The person who walks away with the majority of those delegates will most likely have a commanding lead and be the ultimate nominee and face of the party.
Buttigieg had no real shot of becoming the party’s nominee against Trump in November. While his initial performance in Iowa was impressive that’s where his dreams came to an end. He was able to amass 26 delegates and should be proud of that.
Amy Klobuchar is another story. She was expected to win her home state of Minnesota on Super Tuesday. She was also gaining momentum in the national polls.
For a woman who started her campaign in the middle of a snowy day showing her true grit and being one of the remaining six candidates out of an initial field of 23 her dropping out just a day before many Americans went to the polls was surprising.
Unfortunately for Amy and Pete, party loyalty and the ultimate political rule of falling in line or risk being ostracized dashed their 2020 presidential dreams. They fell on their partisan swords in support of the predetermined moderate and lifelong soldier, Joe Biden. If this sounds eerily familiar to 2016 where the Democratic primaries were merely procedural and everyone except Bernie, who found out too late that the party, not the people pick the candidate, you are not mistaken. History does repeat itself. Last time it was Hillary, this time it’s Joe. It was always going to be Joe.
Here’s why it all happened so quickly.
Biden needed proof of concept to convince the others in the moderate lane and big-money donors that he could win. That proof came in the form of his first primary victory in South Carolina. Once that happened party establishment fell in line like they always would and began quickly endorsing Joe Biden.
Knowing that they needed to give Biden the best chance to win they convinced the two weakest candidates who could not continue without the financial support of the DNC to step aside.
Amy and Pete represented a version of the moderate left. Not so much as to be considered a Centrist, but enough to remove them as an option for those who were looking for that in the ballot box.
This strategy proved fruitful as Biden went on to dominate Super Tuesday. He won 10 of the 14 contests, losing the remaining four to Sanders.
The writing was on the wall for Bloomberg and Warren. For Mike, he learned a half a billion-dollar lesson that ad money does not guarantee a victory. It certainly can’t help you with poor debate performances and a lack of personality.
For Elizabeth, as my recent post where I ranked the remaining eight candidates will attest, you can’t build a campaign on a foundation of lies. It’s too bad the DNA test that disproved her Native American heritage could not have predicted the future. Perhaps in hindsight, she can reflect on her history of cultural appropriation for personal greed and realize that you can’t be everything to everyone if you don’t know who you are yourself.
And then there were three.
Yes, don’t forget that the Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard (D) is still in the race for the White House.
The media wants you to. Yes, she has no legitimate way to win the Democratic nomination with only two delegates to her name. She knows this, but I believe she’s making a point.
Ever since Tulsi stepped down from her Democratic committee in 2016 and backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton the party elite has blacklisted her. Having already announced that she will not be seeking reelection what better way to remind them of her existence than to continue her campaign. Tulsi has said she will continue until the party has their convention this July. My guess is she’s coordinating with Bernie Sanders in a sort of anti-DNC alliance. If Bernie does magically overcome the odds and is able to prevent a repeat of 2016 by securing the party’s nomination look for him to select Tulsi as his running mate for November.