After finishing fourth in Iowa, coming in fifth in New Hampshire, and being blown out of the water by Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada, former Vice President Joe Biden lost his long-held status of the Democratic frontrunner. Winning South Carolina, which votes Saturday, is now a must for the Delaware Democrat.
Biden still holds a lead in the Palmetto State, largely thanks to the support he enjoys among older African-American voters. Rev. Jesse Jackson — former presidential candidate and renowned civil rights activist who hails from South Carolina — did not mince his words when asked about Biden on The Intercept‘s podcast.
As Jeremy Scahill, who conducted the interview, pointed out via Twitter, Jackson observed that the Democratic Party is openly backing Biden, but noted that the former vice president is not addressing “the pain” of the African-American community. “The Democratic machinery lined up for Biden. But his message does not address the pain of our people,” he said, weighing in on Biden’s label of a moderate Democrat.
“I’m not sure what moderate means [if] people don’t have affordable health care. I’m not sure what moderate means to us. As a matter of fact it means very little to us.”
Jackson, who has not endorsed anyone in the Democratic primary race, also opined on Biden’s “proximity” to former President Barack Obama. According to Jackson, in 2008, Biden “was put on the ticket to balance the ticket, not enhance it,” and he is firmly to the right of Obama.
The famous civil rights activist also weighed in on billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy, noting that Bloomberg, too, has relied on his perceived proximity to Obama to woo voters, frequently using the former president’s statements about him in television advertisements.
According to Jackson, the fact that Obama “has not objected” to being featured in Bloomberg’s advertisements means that the former president is giving Bloomberg “the silent permission” to use his name and image as he rises in the polls.
According to Jim Messina, former Obama campaign manager, winning South Carolina is imperative for Biden if he wants to remain a viable candidate. “Joe Biden absolutely simply has to win on Saturday to continue in this race,” he said in a Wednesday interview.
According to Messina, candidates will begin dropping out of the race come Super Tuesday, especially those whose campaigns lack the funding to go on. Sanders and Bloomberg are the strongest in this regard, with the former being the most prolific fundraiser in the field, and the latter being a self-funded billionaire, Obama’s former campaign manager explained.