ABBEVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden has made his presidential bid official in South Carolina.
The former vice president filed his paperwork as a candidate in next year’s Democratic primary during a stop Friday at a soul food restaurant in Abbeville.
Surrounded by a crush of media and lunchtime patrons at Food for the Soul, a tiny restaurant boasting a menu of fried chicken, pork chops and burgers, Biden signed his candidacy papers at a booth with state Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson.
“You’re officially on the ballot!” Robertson told Biden, above a din of applause from supporters.
“I’m going to need your help,” Biden said to the crowd.
Polls have generally shown Biden leading his rivals in South Carolina, where he maintains high popularity among the heavily black Democratic electorate. On Thursday night, he held a town hall event in Greenwood with a crowd of about 825, according to his campaign.
Asked by reporters about the strength of his support in the early-voting state, Biden said, “I do feel pretty confident.”
In a CNN interview airing Friday, Biden was asked about Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has called for Biden’s son Hunter to testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Trump has accused Hunter Biden of using his father’s influence to get a high-paying job on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and Democrats say Trump held up military aid to Ukraine to prompt an investigation into the Bidens.
“I am disappointed and quite frankly I’m angered,” Biden said. “(Graham) knows me. He knows my son. He knows there’s nothing to this. Trump is now essentially holding power over him that even the Ukrainians wouldn’t yield to.”
Biden added: “And Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life.”
Biden joins Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, on the ballot for South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary, the first in a Southern state.
Several candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris of California, author Marianne Williamson and former tech executive Andrew Yang are campaigning in the state this weekend, and officials say some could be filing their paperwork.
South Carolina’s filing deadline is Dec. 4.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP