House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) on Tuesday called to cancel upcoming Democratic presidential debates if former vice president Joe Biden won a decisive victory against Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the Mini Tuesday states.
“I think when the night is over, Joe Biden will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination,” Clyburn told NPR after networks called a victory for Biden in Michigan. “Quite frankly, if the night ends the way it has begun, I think it is time for us to shut this primary down, it is time for us to cancel the rest of these debates — because you don’t do anything but get yourself in trouble if you continue in this contest when it’s obvious that the numbers will not shake out for you.”
Clyburn added that prolonged campaign fights are generally not in any candidate’s or party’s best interest.
“People will say things,” the South Carolina representative said, “that you cannot overcome.”
As of Wednesday morning Biden has won four of six Mini Tuesday states, including in Michigan where Sanders won in 2016. Biden currently possesses 823 delegates to Sanders’s 623, all but eliminating the Vermont senator’s chances of becoming the Democratic nominee.
Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American lawmaker in Congress and a political kingmaker in his home state, gave Biden his endorsement just before the South Carolina primary. That endorsement helped propel Biden to victories in South Carolina and in other southern states, where the former vice president is especially popular among black voters.