“If the Democrats want a nominee who is a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat, a proud Democrat, then join us,” he said at a victory rally in Columbia, SC.
Sanders is a Democratic socialist, and Bloomberg switched his party affiliation from independent to Democrat in 2018.
But Biden also singled out Sanders when he said that “most Americans don’t want the promise of revolution….They want results.”
“This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party. If Democrats nominate me, I believe we can beat Donald Trump,” Biden said.
In recent weeks it looked as if Biden was in danger of losing the state to Sanders, a scenario that likely would have ended his candidacy. Polls earlier this week still showed Sanders closing the gap with Biden.
“To all of those of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden told the crowd. “Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared to this candidacy. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic party, we just won and we won big because of you. And we are very much alive.”
Sanders, speaking in Virginia Beach, VA, congratulated Biden on his victory and told a rally crowd, “You cannot win them all.”
PREVIOUSLY: Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race after trailing in the South Carolina, where he had invested more than $20 million.
“I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency,” Steyer told supporters, while vowing to continue to work on issues of racial injustice and climate change.
Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist who had self funded much of his campaign, had staked a big part of his viability on a significant showing in the state.
He was in third place in the primary, behind Biden and Sanders. But he also had poor finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Steyer said that he would “of course” be supporting the Democratic nominee.
PREVIOUSLY: South Carolina gave Joe Biden’s campaign a much-needed revival, as he was projected to win the state’s primary by a significant margin on Saturday, CNN and other major news outlets said.
His supporters are hoping that the victory will give him a boost before Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold primaries. The latest polls show Bernie Sanders holding a large lead in California, where he plans to hold a Los Angeles rally on Sunday evening.
The race was called right as polls closed at 7 PM ET, an indication that Biden will be well ahead of his nearest rival in the vote count.
Biden’s supporters hope that his win will narrow the field and set him up to be the chief rival to Sanders, who has a delegate lead. But that is complicated by Michael Bloomberg, who has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the presidential race in an effort to make a strong showing next week. That will be the first time he has been on the ballot, and he purchased three minutes of time on CBS and NBC on Sunday night to give an address on leadership during the coronavirus crisis.
Biden had a poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, but his fortunes seemed to turn last week, when he finished a distant second to Sanders in Nevada’s caucuses. That made South Carolina a make or break primary for his campaign.
News channel pundits quickly focused on how other campaigns need to weigh their futures given Biden’s ability to win African American voters in South Carolina and Sanders’ dominance of the Latino electorate in Nevada.
“I would ask these candidates, not after Super Tuesday, but tomorrow, do you have a path forward?” Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN. He endorsed Biden.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tweeted that Bloomberg “can stop Bernie Sanders by dropping out of the race and running ads for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. If he does not, Michael Bloomberg will be responsible for Bernie’s victory. That will be his legacy.”
President Donald Trump weighed in with his own punditry.
“Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign,” he wrote on Twitter. “After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates, Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!”
At a rally on Friday night in North Charleston, Trump called on his supporters to vote for Sanders, apparently on the idea that he would cause more chaos for Democrats and be easier to beat in November.
Biden’s campaign is under the gun to raise money. His victory should give him a boost in fundraising, but it’s probably too late to buy ads to run in time for Super Tuesday. His campaign has scheduled a fund-raising event for Wednesday at the Los Angeles home of Sherry Lansing, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti making appearances.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who endorsed Biden this week, said in a CNN interview before polls closed on Saturday that the campaign needed to do some retooling. Other pundits suggested that Biden would benefit from Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar staying in the race on Super Tuesday because it may keep Sanders from winning or drawing a majority of delegates in their home states, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Those states also have primaries that day.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.