Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden on Sunday downplayed his plummeting polls in the South Carolina primary, denying he ever claimed the state was his campaign's "firewall."
Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan told Biden that CBS tracking polls had found that his lead with black voters in South Carolina is "thinning out," falling from 54 percent to 35 percent. Biden pinned the blame on opponent and hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, blaming his decline on "the amount of money being spent by the billionaires to try to cut into the African-American vote." Brennan, however, pressed Biden on his claims that South Carolina would be the stopgap for a rapidly collapsing campaign.
"South Carolina was your firewall," Brennan said.
"You've said it [sic] my firewall," Biden replied.
"The campaign has said it's your firewall," Brennan said.
"No, that's not right," Biden said. "I've said I'm going to do well there, and I'll do well there, and I'll do well beyond there as well."
Biden has explicitly called the state his firewall. In a Feb. 2 interview, for example, he told MSNBC, "I think I have a real firewall in South Carolina. And then we go into the Super Tuesday states that have a significant number of minorities and African Americans."
Biden currently leads the polls in South Carolina, but that lead has significantly diminished during the Democratic primary. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has closed the gap to within five points of the former vice president, recent polling shows, with Steyer close behind.
"Flames seem to be licking through the cracks in Biden's firewall," Dr. Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop University poll, said on the release of a South Carolina poll Thursday. "His support has dropped by double digits since the late September Winthrop Poll.... Bernie Sanders, now second behind Biden, has more than doubled his support, both overall and among African American voters."
Biden said on Sunday that he would leave any "pontificating" about his campaign to the journalists.
"That's not my job," he said. "My job is to make the best case I can. I think we'll do well. And I think we're going to go on to Super Tuesday and do very well."
Recent campaign filings show that Biden is among the Democratic contenders facing a funding crisis in advance of Saturday's primary in the Palmetto State. He entered February with a little over $7 million in the bank, Politico reports, compared with Sanders's $17 million cash-on-hand.