As former Vice President Joe Biden outperformed expectations in the South Carolina Democratic primary, he used his victory speech to cudgel Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-USSR). He thanked South Carolina Democrats for reviving his campaign, and said, “This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party.”
Biden did not mention Sanders by name, but he did repeatedly slam the self-declared democratic socialist’s policies and talking points. The former VP called for a candidate who would restore the middle class, not raise their taxes; for a candidate who would “build on Obamacare, not scrap it.” He also faulted Sanders for failing to oppose the National Rifle Association as much as Biden ostensibly would.
“And if the Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a life-long Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat, join us,” Biden declared, casting shade on former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (who was formerly a Republican and an independent), and Bernie Sanders (who remains independent although he promises to become a Democrat if he enters the Oval Office).
Biden largely cast the nomination race as a choice between two candidates: himself and Sanders. He suggested that if Democrats nominate Bernie, they will re-elect Donald Trump.
“We have the option to win them big or lose them big,” the former VP said. He insisted that he would win because he represents a continuation of the legacy of “the most successful president in our lifetime, Barack Obama.”
“Folks, win big or lose, that’s the choice,” Biden said. “Talk is cheap, false promises are deceptive. Talk about revolution won’t change anyone’s life. We need real changes right now.”
The former vice president insisted that “winning means uniting America,” and warned that Bernie would further divide the country. “We can’t become like them. We can’t have a never-ending war.”
Then he attacked Trump, saying the sitting president “walked away” from the notion that “all men are created equal.”
To Democrats who might be skeptical about Biden’s electability after three losses before this eventual win, the former VP praised South Carolina as that state that launched previous presidents.
“We are very much alive,” he said. Speaking to South Carolinians, he said, “You launched Bill Clinton, Barack Obama to the presidency. Now you’ve launched our campaign on the path to defeating Donald Trump.”
I'm about to take the stage from South Carolina. Tune in to watch live: https://t.co/lrtklurDrY
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 1, 2020
Biden indeed had a convincing win. While he led the RealClearPolitics polling average with 39.7 percent to Sanders’s 24.3 percent, he is expected to win the primary with slightly less than 50 percent of the vote, with Sanders trailing him at about 20 percent.
While Biden subtly attacked Bernie in his remarks, Sanders congratulated his opponent.
“I want to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory tonight. I believe very strongly that the people of this country—on Super Tuesday and after—will support us because we are more than a campaign. We are a movement,” he tweeted.
I want to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory tonight.
I believe very strongly that the people of this country—on Super Tuesday and after—will support us because we are more than a campaign. We are a movement.
Chip in tonight to help us go forward: https://t.co/tjejWmhFRw
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 1, 2020
As for Trump, he used Biden’s victory to pressure Bloomberg to drop out of the race.
“Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign,” the president tweeted. “After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates, Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!”
Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign. After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates, Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.