Nancy Pelosi Says She’s ‘Not Counting Joe Biden Out’ Of Presidential Primary

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Although Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appears to have solidified his front-runner status after the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t given up on the primary’s former leader, Joe Biden, The Hill reports.

“I think every one of our candidates… would be a better president than the current occupant of the White House,” Pelosi said during a CNN interview, noting that there are many other races that she believes are more representative of the United States.

With his poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden is shifting focus to the more diverse South Carolina, where RealClearPolitics puts him in a 6.5-point lead over Sanders. During a recent campaign event, Biden noted the necessity of securing the “overwhelming support” of brown and black voters.

Despite Biden’s optimism, political strategists have noted that voters in the later nominating states could be turned off by the former vice president’s performance in the primary thus far and jump ship to stronger candidates.

Speaking to The Hill, Caitlin Jewitt, an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, noted that anyone who just started to pay attention to the race would hear that Biden isn’t the front-runner.

“You’re hearing that [Sen. Bernie] Sanders [I-Vt.] is the front-runner, [former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete] Buttigieg is doing better than expected and [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar [D-Minn.] is doing better than expected.”

As The Intercept reported, Biden is facing questions over his civil rights activism claims ahead of South Carolina’s February 29 primary. The publication notes that Sanders surrogate Sean King has drawn attention to Biden’s “often confusing and at times contradictory statements” about his alleged activism in his home state of Delaware.

King notes that Biden frequently called himself a “teenage civil rights activist” during his first presidential run in 1987 but later withdrew such claims. While serving under former President Barack Obama, he again claimed he participated in “desegregation protests” as a teenager.

King goes as far as to accuse Biden of lying about his activism to gain the support of black voters. In response to King’s accusations, Biden’s Rapid Response Director, Andrew Bates, spoke to The Intercept and pointed to at least two protests against segregation that Biden allegedly participated in while he was young: one in Delaware in 1961 and one at the Rialto movie theater in 1962.

“Advancing civil rights and overthrowing systemic racism are at the heart of who Joe Biden is,” Bates said. “The Vice President is proud that he protested in favor of desegregating the Rialto in 1962.”