COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Vice President Joe Biden is thanking South Carolina voters after his victory in the state’s Democratic presidential primary.
Biden tweeted Saturday night shortly after the polls closed: “Thank you, South Carolina!” He says, “To all those who have been knocked down, counted out, and left behind — this is your campaign.”
Biden’s South Carolina watch party erupted when The Associated Press and television networks called the state’s primary for him.
The Columbia scene, with more than a thousand supporters filling the University of South Carolina’s volleyball gymnasium, was quite different compared to that in Iowa and New Hampshire just weeks ago.
Biden’s Iowa crowd was late arriving and obviously relieved when a meltdown of the caucus count spared Biden having to acknowledge his fourth-place finish. In New Hampshire, Biden wasn’t even there for his fifth-place finish, having bailed on the state to speak in South Carolina.
Biden finished his tweet by saying, “Together, we will win this nomination and beat Donald Trump.”
Bernie Sanders’ supporters gathering for a rally in Virginia offered scattered boos as Joe Biden was announced as the winner of the South Carolina primary.
Much of the crowd was still arriving for a rally set to begin at 8 p.m. ET at a gymnasium at Virginia Wesleyan University when a projection screen tuned to CNN showed the former vice president predicted to win South Carolina.
It’s Biden’s first primary win in the 2020 election season, with Sanders garnering the most votes in the first three contests.
Some Sanders supporters who had counted down the final seconds before polls closed began booing at the results, though that faded shortly.
Shara Iglesias, a 25-year-old junior studying education at nearby Norfolk State University said she thinks Sanders, a Vermont senator, will win Virginia, which votes in three days on “Super Tuesday.”
Iglesias said, “I think he’s going to do a lot better here.”
Biden’s win could work to blunt front-runner Bernie Sanders’ momentum heading into Super Tuesday, when 14 states and American Samoa weigh in on the race.
Only Biden and California billionaire Tom Steyer planned to mark primary night in the state, as the rest of the field stumped across the spectrum of Super Tuesday states that vote next week.
About 40% of voters in South Carolina picked health care as the top issue, while 22% said the economy and jobs are most important. That’s according to an AP VoteCast survey of the electorate. Fourteen percent of voters identified climate change.
Close to 9 in 10 Democratic voters said it’s important for their nominee to be a strong leader.