Biden is counting on the South

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with supporters following a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

By Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver

As he slips in the key early voting states, former Vice President Joe Biden is counting on his firewall in South Carolina to help him take home the Democratic nomination even though Democrats are warning that if Biden doesn’t perform well in Iowa and New Hampshire, his lead in the Palmetto State could be in jeopardy.

As Amie Parnes writes, Biden has been losing ground in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks, according to polling. And if he falls behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he will have to remake his case to voters.

While Biden leads in South Carolina by 20 points, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, strategists argue that it doesn’t mean those votes are locked in, particularly if other candidates begin to pick up speed between now and Feb. 29, when the state’s primary takes place.

“Savvy black voters will reassess their options,” said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist who served as a campaign aide to Hillary Clinton. “Every candidate will have to remake their case to, and reaffirm their policy prescriptions for, the African American community — Biden included.” 

Another strategist was more direct: “The support won’t be there if he’s slipping. There’s just no way.”

Biden renewed his Iowa efforts on Saturday as he launched an 8-day bus tour across the state focused on rural America and the president (The Associated Press).

Mark Leibovich: 2020 Democratic candidates wage escalating fight (on the merits of fighting).

Politico: Trump builds a bad cop, good cop routine for his 2020 race.

The Hill: Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) endorses Biden for president over fellow California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris.

The Hill: Warren receives endorsement from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

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