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Biden, who appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” seemed confident that the South Carolina win shows he can challenge his Democratic presidential primary rival Bernie Sanders and reclaim the mantle as his party’s front-runner in the race to battle President Trump in November’s general election.
“It’s a big boost,” Biden said. “I think it starts the real comeback and we picked up a lot of delegates.”
Biden, however, hedged his victory in the first in the South primary by noting that the race is far from determined.
“We have a long, long way to go. This is a marathon,” he said.
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 had staked his campaign’s future on South Carolina.
In the Palmetto State, where Biden was counting on his popularity among African-Americans, he captured 48 percent of Democratic presidential primary voters, crushing Sanders by nearly 30 percentage points and making up lots of lost ground to the populist senator from Vermont in the all-important race for convention delegates.
But the true test for Biden will come this week on “Super Tuesday” – when 14 states from coast-to-coast, including delegate-rich behemoths like California and Texas, hold primaries that offer a potential combined prize of a third of all nomination delegates.
Biden is hoping his impressive victory in South Carolina – long considered his campaign firewall – will give him plenty of free media coverage and momentum heading into Super Tuesday and help him make up for plenty of lost ground to both Sanders and multibillionaire Mike Bloomberg in the coming contests.
Biden is at a big disadvantage in the Super Tuesday states – especially in delegate-rich California where he has only one office and has been outspent on advertising by both Sanders and Bloomberg. He also trails in the polls in California and Texas by a large margin to Sanders.
The former vice president deflected questions by moderator Chris Wallace about the future of his campaign if he gets “clobbered” on Super Tuesday where 34 percent of the Democratic delegates will be awarded, saying only that there are other delegate-heavy states still in play following Tuesday’s votes.
“There are a lot of big states coming up after that – Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan,” Biden said. “I feel good about where we are and ultimately people are beginning to focus on the opposition the way they focused on me for a long time.”
“It’s about the message,” he added.
On the front-runner Sanders, Biden noted that he would support him if he was the nominee, but that the self-described Democratic socialist would make it difficult for Democratic candidates down ballot.
“You can’t run as an Independent Socialist, now a Democratic Socialist, and do particularly — expect to do very well in the states we have to win, like North Carolina, like Georgia, like Florida, like Texas, like Pennsylvania, et cetera,” Biden said. “I believe that if I’m on the top of the ticket we will win back the Senate and we’ll keep the House. I went in last time in 2018 to 24 purple states, we won 41 House seats, we won governor seats.”
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.