You need to read this post from last weekend to fully appreciate this walkback, but it’s worth it. The story Biden’s been telling on the trail lately is verrrry specific: One time, during a trip to South Africa with America’s ambassador to the UN, he was arrested in Soweto en route to trying to visit Nelson Mandela while Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. That seemed unlikely for many reasons — the ambassador at the time didn’t recall it, Soweto is nowhere near Robben Island, American dignitaries aren’t typically hauled in by local officials while traveling abroad.
Biden recalled it to audiences no fewer than three times, though. He even added an impressive extra flourish. Supposedly Mandela himself found out about the arrest at some point and thanked him for it years later, while visiting Washington as South Africa’s first black president.
CNN asked him about it today. How come no record exists of this episode? Why had Biden himself never thought to tell this stirring tale in the many decades since the events took place until this past month? Somehow he saved it until he was 77 years old, coincidentally at the very moment that he needs a tidal wave of support from black Democrats in South Carolina and beyond to rescue his campaign. Simple misunderstanding, says Biden:
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) February 28, 2020
So “arrested” was more like “momentarily detained.” What about the ambassador and Soweto and Robben Island and Mandela supposedly hearing about the “arrest”?
CNN seemed uninterested in the finer points of Joe’s yarn, and in trying to tease out whether this was faulty memory or a politician grossly embellishing a story to pander to a group of voters. Hmmm.
Most indications in polling are that Biden’s going to win big tomorrow in South Carolina, which will at least give him a fighting chance next week on Super Tuesday. I stress: Most indications. Not all.
Joe Biden leads the Democratic primary with 28%. He is followed by Bernie Sanders (24%), Tom Steyer (16%), Elizabeth Warren (12%) and Pete Buttigieg (11%). All other candidates poll at 5% or less.
Biden (36%) leads among black Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, followed by Steyer (24%) and Sanders (22%). Sanders leads among white voters with 27% of the vote, followed by Biden (19%) and Buttigieg (18%).
A four-point win following a round of polling that predicted victory by 12 points or better wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement of Joementum. And four points is within this poll’s margin of error, meaning that it could be a pure toss-up between Biden and Sanders right now. The polling in Texas, where the race had been neck-and-neck 10 days ago, isn’t looking great for him today either.
New CNN/SSRS poll
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) February 28, 2020
NEW @UnivisionNews University of Houston TEXAS poll:
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) February 28, 2020
You can see starkly from those numbers that Bloomberg is just killing him, taking what might otherwise be a sizable Biden plurality win and turning it into a narrow Sanders victory by splitting moderates. Same story in Virginia, where Bernie’s at 28 percent in the latest poll while Biden and Bloomberg stand at 19 and 17 percent, respectively. (Josh Kraushaar compares Bloomberg’s campaign to a pro-Bernie Super PAC at this point.) Biden rolled out Tim Kaine’s endorsement today to try to shake loose some of those Bloomberg votes but I continue to think he might be on a Gingrich 2012 trajectory in South Carolina — a big win that supposedly reinvigorates his campaign followed by underperformance in the next election that all but finishes him.
Does this sound like a formidable Super Tuesday candidate to you?
[Biden] has no real organization, staffing or advertising in most of the Super Tuesday states, where he’ll also face opposition from Michael Bloomberg in addition to Sanders…
Biden’s operations in Super Tuesday states have been described even by his own aides as “scrappy,” with staffing and ad spending well below the rest of the top candidates.
His money deficit is evident on the airwaves and on the ground across the states with upcoming contests. The campaign didn’t make its first buys for Super Tuesday until Wednesday of this week, and after early voting periods had been open for weeks in a few states. The purchase had been in the six-figures but, after days of strong online fundraising, was upped to $2.2 million on Thursday, his campaign said…
By late February, Sanders had close to two dozen offices in California and Biden had one, though his campaign began scaling up its operation after the Iowa caucuses.
“Biden’s team says it will rely on the strategy it used in Iowa,” the report claims at one point, i.e. they’ll try to leverage Biden’s sheer name recognition to overcome other candidates’ advantages in money and organization. Um, he finished fourth in Iowa. Behind even Elizabeth Warren.
Here’s Mike Bloomberg insisting that he’ll continue to campaign unless and until Bernie has a majority of delegates, which means all but certain doom for Biden’s chances if he means it. I’m starting to think that after this is over Bloomy’s going to reveal that he became a convert to socialism sometime last year and decided his mission was to make Bernie Sanders president.
“I am going to stay right to the bitter end, as long as I have a chance,” @MikeBLoomberg tells @Kasie in an exclusive interview. “If Bernie Sanders were to get a majority, then of course not…you got to be in it to win it.”
— Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt (@WayTooEarly) February 27, 2020