COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former Vice President Joe Biden fled an election defeat in New Hampshire on Tuesday, returning to South Carolina hours before polls closed with a message for the experts and cable TV pundits who said his struggling campaign is finished.
"It ain't over, man," Biden said at his "launch party" near downtown Columbia as poll results showed him coming in fifth in the Granite State after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. With less than 10% of the vote, Biden was not on pace to win any delegates.
As primary results flooded in, Biden stood in front of South Carolina's flag in a room decorated with signs saying "Fired Up Ready 4 Joe" and "Battle for the Soul of the Nation."
"Tonight, I've just heard from the first two states, not all the nation," he said. "Not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation. Not 10%. All right, that's the opening bell. Not the closing bell. ... Up till now, we haven't heard from the most committed constituency in the Democratic Party -- the African American community."
For months now, Biden's campaign has argued that the first two states in the party's nomination process, both of which have overwhelmingly white populations, do not reflect the diversity of the country.
After his lackluster performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden is counting on a victory with a decisive margin Feb. 29 in South Carolina, which his campaign has long dubbed its "firewall" due to his support from African American voters who make up about two-thirds of the state's Democratic primary electorate.
As poll results started to come in from New Hampshire, the men and women of the Bethlehem Baptist Church Mass Choir opened Biden's campaign event with a rousing gospel rendition of "All in His Hands."
"I put it all in his hands
"Whatever the problem, I put it all in his hands
"I know that he can solve them