The Latest: Biden looking for a big ‘bump’ in South Carolina

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A sign is posted before polls open for South Carolina primary, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential primary contest (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

Looking for victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, Joe Biden said the “bigger the win, the bigger the bump.” But as he visited a polling site in Greenville, South Carolina, the former vice president insisted he doesn’t have to win by a particular margin if he hopes to catch early delegate leader Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t think it’ll even be over after Super Tuesday,” Biden said of the 15 contests looming next week. “I think it’s going to go on to states that are ones that I feel very good about.”

Sanders has led voting in the first three contests, but Biden is the heavy favorite to win in South Carolina. The question is what kind of momentum that gives Biden heading into Tuesday, when mega-billionaire Mike Bloomberg will be on the primary ballots for the first time.

“There’s all kinds of analyses that suggest that he may cut into my base, he may not cut into my base,” Biden said of Bloomberg. “Michael’s gonna spend. I don’t know how much he’s spent already. … I just don’t know how it cuts.”

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7:15 a.m.

Polls are opening across South Carolina as Democrats make their selections in the state’s presidential primary.

Voting is open on Saturday until 7 p.m. ET throughout the state. There are a dozen candidates on the ballot, although the slate of names was set before some dropped out of the race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has expressed confidence of victory in South Carolina, a state where he has long relationships and has led recent surveys. The state could be Biden’s first primary win in four tries at the White House.

There is no party registration in South Carolina, meaning Republicans — who have no primary here — are free to vote in the Democratic contest.

8:45 p.m.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has made his election-eve appeal to South Carolina voters, pledging that his commitment to them will go beyond the primary election.

The Democrat told attendees at a rally Friday night in downtown Columbia that he and his wife had “fallen in love” with the state during their months of campaigning there ahead of Saturday’s presidential primary.

In the balloting, Steyer said he felt the “people of South Carolina are up for a righteous fight.”

Steyer has spent months honing in on the black voters who make up most of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate, accruing top endorsements from members of the Legislative Black Caucus and frequently voicing support for reparations. He closed out his rally at Allen University, a historically black institution, by referencing an anthem of the civil rights movement, saying, “We shall, in fact, overcome.”

Steyer’s rally was primarily a music showcase, featuring performances by rapper Juvenile, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

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8:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump has asked the crowd at his rally in South Carolina whether Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden would make a better Democratic opponent for him.

Trump held the rally in North Charleston on Friday, a day before the state’s Democratic presidential primary. Sanders is the front-runner in the race but is considered a risky choice by some because he identifies as a democratic socialist. Biden is a moderate who won accolades as President Barack Obama’s vice president, but he doesn’t garner the same level of excitement as Sanders does.

The rally crowd relished Trump’s asking them to participate in the poll. More in the crowd shouted “Bernie!” and booed the mention of Biden than the other way around.

Trump agreed, saying, “I think Bernie’s easier to beat.”

Some state GOP leaders have urged Republican voters to participate in Saturday’s Democratic primary and vote for Sanders.

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8 p.m.

On the eve of the South Carolina presidential primary, Joe Biden is telling voters that America has a chance to “change the economy in a big way, without being socialist” and “without having a revolution.”

Friday’s remarks were a broadside at Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist with sweeping proposals on health care and tuition-free college.

Biden is looking to the Saturday primary for his first victory of Democrats’ 2020 nominating fight. Sanders led voting in the first contests, animating the party’s left flank while a gaggle of rivals split the rest of the vote.

The former vice president has stepped up his warnings that nominating Sanders would be too risky for the party. Biden argues that Sanders’ policies are impractical and impossible to get through Congress.

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4:45 p.m.

California’s first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom has endorsed Elizabeth Warren just days before the state’s Democratic presidential primary.

Her husband, Gov. Gavin Newsom, hasn’t backed another candidate since fellow Californian Kamala Harris exited the race.

Siebel Newsom said in a Friday statement that “women need a champion in the White House” who will stand up for women, protect reproductive rights and lift up marginalized voices.

Siebel Newsom is a documentary filmmaker focused on gender equity. She’s chosen the “first partner” moniker instead of the traditional “first lady” because it’s gender neutral.

California is one of 14 states to hold its primary on Tuesday. Warren plans to campaign in the state on Monday night.

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