- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2020

Joe Biden isn’t exactly putting out the Closed, Gone Fishing sign on his political campaign.

But even he’s acknowledging, subtly and in not so many words, but entertaining the thought just the same, that his trail to the White House has been less than smooth and that South Carolina may prove the end of the line.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” with host Chuck Todd, the once-golden-starred Democratic hopeful Biden said “I have to do really well in it” — meaning South Carolina.

The unstated?

“Or else.”

Biden then spoke of Bill Clinton who, as Arkansas governor, suffered a line of losses on the primary trail while running for U.S. president in 1992, yet still emerged the winner. And he spoke of the demographics of Iowa and New Hampshire versus the demographics of South Carolina as a means of showing hope in a campaign future. In other words: Biden believes he’s got the black vote under his belt.

“We’re just getting to the meat of getting to the number of delegates you need to be able to win this election,” Biden said, Politico reported. “I’m confident we’re going to be in good shape.”

Versus what — in the days before Iowa and New Hampshire when he was not confident he was going to be in good shape?

Biden has to express confidence of being in good shape — else throw in the towel and abandon the campaign now. But just because he expresses confidence doesn’t mean that confidence will be rewarded. Witness his losses thus far.

It doesn’t even mean he believes in the confidence he himself expresses.

“I’m the only one who has the record and has the background and has the support,” Biden said. “They know me. They know who I am.”

Well, guess what? Iowa and New Hampshire voters know Biden and who he is, too.

That’s why the comparison with Clinton’s 1992 run doesn’t apply: Clinton was largely an unknown. Biden, however, is known, experienced, tested and tried.

When Iowa and New Hampshire voters rejected him for another, they knew what they were rejecting. They didn’t reject Biden out of ignorance.

Biden’s run at the White House is losing steam. A Quinnipiac University poll from a couple weeks back showed a 22 percentage-point drop in favor for him from black voters in recent weeks. Ouch.

If Biden’s looking to South Carolina with a hope and dream of blacks raising him in the ranks — he might want to take a second look.

And honestly, nobody knows that better than Biden. No politician even tiptoes toward an “or else” scenario unless a “done deal” decision has already been made. Biden knows: South Carolina, or bust.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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