According to sources familiar with Biden’s deliberations, the vice president hasn’t gotten into details himself, but he’s asking questions about what that organization would look like. In the close Biden circle, a theory of a primary win has taken shape: the old Harpootlian and Hollings networks aren’t nothing, and those could be bolstered by Biden’s ties to the African-American and faith-based communities, with an emphasis on the African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist churches.

Plus, South Carolina has an open primary, so maybe Biden would get some Republican votes, Biden insiders guess, among people turned off by the GOP primary or who really hate Clinton or remember when Biden gave the eulogy for Republican icon Strom Thurmond that people here still talk about.

Biden’s boosters never fail to mention that Clinton got crushed here in 2008. And with polls showing her on the ropes in both Iowa and New Hampshire — even top operatives with close ties to the Clintons are beginning to acknowledge the possibility that she might lose both of those contests to Sanders — they think Biden could pick up the pieces in South Carolina. That win in a state with the most diverse electorate would fuel the argument that he’s best positioned to help his party hold the White House for another four years.

Clinton’s backers in South Carolina dismiss the Biden theory outright. Don Fowler, the former Democratic National Committee and state party chairman here, called it all “fanciful thinking” and “superficial boasting.”