NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is officially backing Joe Biden for president.
The South Carolina Democrat and state party kingmaker announced Wednesday morning he is throwing support behind the former vice president, who was present for the announcement.
Clyburn delivered the news at Trident Technical College in his North Charleston district in an emotional speech, evoking the memory of his late-wife Emily England Clyburn -- "(There was) nobody Emily loved as a leader in this country more than she loved Joe Biden, and we talked about Joe all the time."
And he recalled a community member who told him at a funeral last week, "the community needs to hear from you."
"I want the public to know I am voting for Joe Biden," Clyburn said Wednesday. "South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden."
Clyburn's endorsement was not unexpected, given the longstanding friendship and professional partnership between the two men.
There was, however, some suspense in the lead-up: while Clyburn recently told The State he had already decided who he would support in the primary, he refused to tip his hand, pledging he would not make any announcement until after the Feb. 24 debate in Charleston and insisting he had not told even the candidate of his choosing that he or she would be receiving the endorsement.
Now, the morning after the debate and just four days until the South Carolina Democratic Primary election, Clyburn has issued one of the most consequential endorsements in the 2020 campaign so far.
In South Carolina, support from Clyburn -- the state's most influential Democrat and highest ranking black member of Congress -- will provide Biden with a major boost in the final push to win the Feb. 29 nominating contest. He will also appear in an ad for the candidate to air in the days ahead to remind voters of the key endorsement.
"It won't just be what Jim Clyburn says, but the fact that Jim Clyburn has a get-out-the-vote operation across this state that is huge," Kimpson told reporters on Tuesday night following the Democratic presidential debate. "We're talking about precinct captains. We're talking about poll managers. The endorsement of Jim Clyburn puts a ground game second to none in the country and so if the majority whip endorses it will be a significant victory for Vice President Biden."