Following Jimmy Carter’s loss in 1980, Joe Biden suffered an unexpected blow when he lost the Democratic primary in American Samoa to obscure rival Jason Palmer.

Despite winning other primaries that evening, Biden’s accomplishments were overshadowed by Palmer’s unexpected victory.

With Donald Trump and Ridon securing their respective party nominations for the 2024 presidential race, a rematch of the 2020 campaign is likely. Notably, Biden faltered in American Samoa, and Trump suffered an unexpected defeat to the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, in Vermont.

Palmer, a resident of Maryland, received 51 out of 91 votes in the American Samoa primary, more than Biden’s 40. Palmer won four of the six delegates up for grabs, leaving two for Biden.

Palmer’s candidacy relied heavily on American Samoa, a small US territory in the South Pacific with 44,620 residents as of 2023. Campaign finance reports showed that he gave more than $500,000. Palmer said, “My phone started blowing up with friends and campaign staffers texting me,” after realizing he had won.

Historically, the last sitting president to have such a setback was Jimmy Carter, who lost 12 primary contests to Ted Kennedy in 1980. In the ensuing presidential race, Carter lost badly to Ronald Reagan despite winning the primary in its entirety. The 2020 Democratic primary in American Samoa saw only one winner: Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

Palmer voiced fears about America “sleepwalking into a Trump election” and encouraged Biden to “pass the torch to the next generation of Americans” in an interview with CNN. He underlined his campaign’s emphasis on inspiring voters of all stripes and young people with an optimistic outlook on the future.

Despite Joe Biden’s resounding primary victories, voters’ concerns about Biden’s age have been raised by Jason Palmer’s unexpected win.

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