Before former Vice President Joe Biden swept South Carolina’s primary Saturday, he stopped in Raleigh to meet hundreds of supporters at Saint Augustine University.
The remaining presidential candidates have zeroed in on North Carolina ahead of Super Tuesday as a critical state to secure the Democratic nomination. While Senator Bernie Sanders has edged out a lead in the polls nationally, Biden’s victory in South Carolina proves the centrists are not backing down just yet.
South Carolina was the win Biden was waiting for, and quite frankly, needed. He hoarded 48 percent of the vote, trailed by Sanders with 20 percent. Tom Steyer, who dropped out of the race Saturday, came in third, followed by the rest of the pack in the single digits.
Biden might not be the most exciting candidate in the race, and he’s certainly not the least problematic (see: Anita Hill, Civil Rights, Mandela) but he’s in it for the long haul and knew he’d fare better in more diverse states due to his strong support in among African Americans. So when he took the stage Saturday to Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” at the historically black college, he played to his strengths: bashing President Donald Trump and delivering punchy one-liners.
“Put me in, coach; I’m ready to play,” Biden told the crowd.
He promised to help bridge North Carolina’s healthcare gap—where 350,000 families don’t have access to Medicaid—and invest $70 billion in historically black colleges and universities like Saint Augustine.
On gun control, he pandered to both sides—citing the passage of the assault weapons ban under President Barack Obama and promising he’d ban them again if elected, but also noting he owns a 12-gauge and a 20-gauge for skeet shooting.
“[The second amendment] doesn’t say that you can have assault weapons with 100 rounds,” Biden said.
Supporters credit Biden’s stability and experience as reasons for backing him in the democratic primary.
“We don’t need a lurch to the far left,” said Walter Herring, a retired army officer. “[It will] just divide the country even more.”
Catherine Clement believes Biden has the strongest path towards the nomination.
“He reflects the interests and values that I have,” said Clement. “He has the experience to know how to get things done.”
Biden wasn’t the only centrist that stopped in Raleigh Saturday. That night, hundreds crowded into Broughton High School to rally for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Local attorney Wes Tripp waited for four hours in line to see Buttigieg, who walked on stage to Panic at the Disco’s “High Hopes.”
The openly gay Millenial mayor, who has been criticized for his robotic tone on the debate stage, unsurprisingly drew a crowd that was 95 percent white, Tripp estimated, but diverse in age. He spoke of the need to bring the party together, whomever the nominee is, to defeat Trump.
“He is my number one but I wouldn’t say I’m a Buttigieg stan,” Tripp said. “I’m not an only Buttigieg.”
Best @PeteButtigieg quotes from tonight:
“We can’t go on with the politics of defining each other by who we voted for in the past.”
“We shouldn’t be at other’s throats instead of having each other’s backs.”
“Just because I wasn’t asked doesn’t mean I shouldn’t tell.”
— Anne (@anne_esq) March 1, 2020
— Wes Tripp (@westripp3) March 1, 2020