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The former vice president – pointing to next week, when 14 states across the country hold primaries on Super Tuesday.
“This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party,” Biden said.
Biden also took aim at rival Sen. Bernie Sanders’ calls for a political revolution.
“Most Americans don’t want [the] promise of revolution. More than promises, they want results,” he said.
Biden – speaking in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at his victory celebration in South Carolina’s capital city – took to the podium to celebrate his first victory in the presidential nomination calendar. After poor fourth- and fifth-place finishes in Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary, followed by a distant second-place showing last weekend in Nevada’s caucuses behind Sanders, Biden won – and won big in South Carolina.
Former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with a supporter at his South Carolina victory celebration, on Feb. 29, 2020 in Columbia, S.C. (Fox News)
With most precincts reporting, Biden held a nearly 30-percentage-point lead over Sanders, the populist senator from Vermont who’s making his second straight White House run.
Biden was fighting for his political life in South Carolina, where a loss likely would have meant the end of his third bid for the presidency.
“For all of those of you who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden told the crowd. “Just days ago the press and the pundits declared this candidacy dead. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we won big. We are very much alive.”
Biden and his campaign are hoping the strong finish in South Carolina will give him momentum going into Super Tuesday, when a third of all Democratic presidential nomination delegates are up for grabs.
“As we celebrate tonight here in Columbia, I want to talk to Democrats across the country, especially those who will be voting on Super Tuesday. This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party. This is the moment and it’s arrived,” Biden highlighted. “The decisions Democrats make in the next few days will determine what this party stands for, what we believe and what we’ll get done.”
He added, “if Democrats nominate me, I believe we can beat Donald Trump, keep Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives as speaker and take back the United States Senate.”
Taking aim at Sanders – who was the clear front-runner heading into Saturday’s contest, thanks to a virtual tie with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, an outright victory in New Hampshire, and a shellacking of his rivals in Nevada – Biden said: “Democrats want to nominate someone who will build on ObamaCare and not scrap it.”
That was a jab at Sanders, who wants to create a government-run single-payer “Medicare-for-all” health care system.
And knocking Sanders – an independent who calls himself a democratic socialist – the man who served as vice president under President Barack Obama for eight years declared to thunderous applause that “Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a proud Democrat, a Obama-Biden Democrat.”
Biden had long looked to the Palmetto State – where black voters made up 55 percent of the Democratic presidential primary electorate, according to exit polls – as his firewall. Thanks to his eight years as Obama’s right-hand man, Biden remains very popular with African-American voters.
Biden also thanked the man standing next to him on the podium — longtime Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina – the most senior black House Democrat, whose endorsement Wednesday gave Biden a big boost. Speaking to Clyburn and to the army of his supporters in the crowd — many of whom were black — Biden stressed he and his family “will never forget what you’ve done for us.”
Moses Brown, a black voter and a native of Columbia, was at the Biden South Carolina celebration event.
“I’m kind of surprised they called it at 7 p.m, but I’m not surprised that he won and won big. I thought that he would do well here,” Brown told Fox News. “I’ve been a Joe Biden guy from the beginning. I was a big fan of Barack Obama.”
Columbia resident Patricia McGovern, also in the crowd, said: “I’m surprised by the margin. I was hoping he was going to win. I’m grateful for the margin of victory. It’s great.”
Pointing to Biden’s resounding win, McGovern noted that when it comes to Democratic Party politics, “South Carolina’s traditionally a conservative Democratic state and I don’t think people believe Bernie’s going to win it.”
Biden’s victory in South Carolina was already paying immediate dividends in at least one Super Tuesday state.
Minutes after he was projected the winner, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe — who was co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run — endorsed Biden.
“It’s time to unite behind the candidate who can beat Trump. @joebiden has the experience, character, and broad appeal to win Virginia and the White House in 2020,” McAuliffe tweeted.
McAuliffe’s backing comes a day after Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia — who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016 — also endorsed Biden.
Virginia is the fourth-biggest of the Super Tuesday states and the latest live telephone operator poll of likely Democratic primary voters there indicates Biden in the lead, with a 5-percentage-point advantage over Sanders and 9 points ahead of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a fellow moderate candidate.
Fox News’ Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report.