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Former President George W. Bush called Rep. Jim Clyburn “the savior” for supporting now-President Joe Biden in the thick of a Democratic primary in which Biden was struggling to separate himself, Clyburn said in a call with reporters Wednesday.

Clyburn, House Majority Whip and the highest ranking Black member of Congress, endorsed Biden just ahead of the South Carolina Democratic primary, before which Biden was reeling. After that endorsement, Biden won South Carolina resoundingly and went on to win the Democratic nomination. Clyburn is highly influential in South Carolina politics, especially among Black voters.

Clyburn said he talked a lot with Bush at Biden’s inauguration Wednesday and that they have always “joked around with each other.”

“If you had not [endorsed] Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today…Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Clyburn said Bush told him before the inauguration.

Clyburn said Bush also told him that the endorsement “saved the party.” Bush didn’t support Trump’s reelection bid in 2020 and voted for “none-of-the-above” in 2016.

Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, downplayed the comments in a tweet.

“Let’s not make this into more than it is. He was saying Clyburn helped saved Biden’s nomination….nothing Biblical here,” Ford wrote.

Clyburn also said he talked with former President Bill Clinton Wednesday about the endorsement, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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