In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said it would have been better for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden if he endorsed him earlier in the race but he did not want to undercut the process.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let’s get some more on this. Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is joining us. He is the House majority whip, the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives. And he’s now officially, publicly endorsing Joe Biden. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Tell us why you think Joe Biden has what it takes to win the nomination, the Democratic presidential nomination, especially in light of the very impressive momentum we are seeing for Bernie Sanders. REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thanks very much for having me, Wolf. I have known Joe Biden for a long, long time. I have been here in the Congress for 28 years. I have spent all of those 28 years working closely with Joe Biden. But I knew him before I came to Congress. I used to teach history. I spend time studying history almost every day, some aspect of it. And I used to spend a lot of time with Joe, with him, talking about Delaware’s role in the Brown v. Board of Education. Those are five cases, South Carolina’s role, and how our states were so similar. A lot of people don’t realize, but Delaware is number eight in percentage of African-American votes. So, when you look at his experiences, his comfort levels with dealing with diverse issues and diverse people with diverse backgrounds, Joe knows the people that I try to represent. And that, to me, is very important. And if you look at his record, I’m proud of his record. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act. He wrote the bill that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. He has been a partner with Barack Obama for the eight years in the White House. And when we were putting together the Affordable Care Act, he worked very hard on that. BLITZER: All right. CLYBURN: And I worked with him. He had some colorful language in describing what we had just done when we passed the bill. And so Joe has the background and the experience. I’m very comfortable with the fact that I think he’s best. BLITZER: So, here’s the question, Congressman. You and I have known each other for a long time. Would it have been better for him if you would have come out a week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and endorsed him, instead of waiting until now? There’s — there’s been early voting in South Carolina going on, as you know. CLYBURN: Yes, it would have been better for him and me maybe, but it wouldn’t have been better for the South Carolina Democratic Party. We have this primary, in the pre-primary window, and I was asked way back when the decision was made not to go out so early making my endorsements or undercutting the primary itself, because it might discourage participation. So, I tried not to get out in front of that. I promised the television sponsors or partners with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute that I would wait until after the debate before I make myself public. And that’s what I did, because it’s not just about me or even about Joe Biden. It’s about building a strong Democratic Party in South Carolina. It’s about Jaime Harrison and those others who will be running for congressional and legislative seats. That’s one reason I think Joe is best, because I think he’s the best person for us to be running with if we want to keep the House and get the Senate back and elect legislators all down the line. So, that’s why I’m doing it.
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