Former President George W. Bush reportedly congratulated South Carolina Democrat Congressman James Clyburn on the inauguration of President Joe Biden, calling Clyburn “the savior” for his role in saving Biden’s troubled presidential campaign.
“George Bush said to me today. He said ‘you know, you’re the savior, because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today,’” Clyburn said in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday. “He said to me, ‘Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president.’”
Bush is referring to Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in South Carolina’s Democrat primary, which came after Biden stumbled early and lost nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. The losses drew comparisons to Biden’s failed 1988 and 2008 bids, with speculation Biden would drop out again should he lose or underperform in South Carolina.
Initially the front-runner after entering the race, the losses in Iowa and New Hampshire took their poll on Biden, who trailed Vermont socialist Senator Bernie Sanders among Democrats by 11% nationally for the presidential nomination.
Biden’s lead in South Carolina had fallen to 8% and many speculated he could end up losing the state and all hope of winning the nomination.
As a 14-term congressman, the House Majority Whip and a key figure in the Congressional Black Caucus, Clyburn’s endorsement carries huge weight among South Carolina’s largely black Democrat electorate.
“I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record. Joe Biden has stood for the hard-working people of South Carolina. We know Joe,” Clyburn said in a tweeted endorsement of Biden. “But more importantly, he know us. In South Carolina, we choose presidents. I’m calling on you to stand with @JoeBiden.”
Armed with Clyburn’s endorsement and assistance, and a recharged performance in a nationally-televised debate, Biden won the South Carolina Democrat primary by a crushing 48% to 19% margin over second-place finisher Sanders.
Biden won all 46 counties in the state and the blowout win among black voters all but ended the presidential campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
The win recharged Biden’s campaign and vaulted him to the nomination, with many crediting Clyburn’s political machine for crowning the winner.