We’re wrapping up our politics live blog for tonight, as a rally for Joe Biden in Dallas, Texas, marks a new stage in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, with centrist candidates ending their campaigns and rallying for Biden against Bernie Sanders. Evening updates:
- Speaking at an energetic rally in Dallas, Texas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar ended her campaign and endorsed Joe endorses Biden for president, telling Americans: “Joe knows you, and he will fight for you.” In response, Biden quipped more than once, “Amy won all the debates.”
- Earlier, millennial mayor Pete Buttigieg endorsed Biden outside Chicken Scratch, a restaurant in Dallas. The two politicians were photographed together in Texas. Biden reportedly said that Buttigieg reminded him of his son, Beau Biden, who died from brain cancer at age 45.
- In his speech, still ongoing now, Biden is talking about Trump’s dangerous effect on America, including how children are bullying other children and citing the president’s example. “Just a few days ago, the press and the pundits has declared this campaign dead,” Biden said.
- Longtime MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews resigned. He had recently compared Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France, then questioned why Elizabeth Warren would suggest Mike Bloomberg was lying about an allegation a female employee made about him. He announced his resignation on air, citing a conversation with NBC, and apologized for the comments he has made about women. Journalist Laura Bassett, who wrote in GQ just days ago about Matthews’ inappropriate behavior towards her and his decades of inappropriate behavior towards other women, wrote, “It’s about time.”
“We want to win big, and Joe Biden can do that,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar says as she endorses Biden for president.
She also criticizes “people in the extremes who are trying to drown out people.”
“Let’s go Joe!” the crowd chants.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is paying tribute to her supporters and her campaign right now as she prepares to formally endorse Joe Biden.
Trump wraps rally in North Carolina as Biden gains momentum in Texas
President Donald Trump is already heading back to Washington after a rally for supporters in Charlotte, North Carolina, as Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, energized by a win in South Carolina and endorsements from his previous centrist Democratic competitors, has not even begun to speak at his rally in Dallas, Texas.
From Dallas, my colleague Oliver Laughland reports that Biden’s rally is energized and already running an hour and a half late, and that Biden is finally about to speak.
“The Biden campaign has been putting on a show of endorsements from across the state. Over a dozen local politicians; state senators, representatives and congresspeople have come out to address the crowd. We still don’t know for certain if former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke will come out to endorse, or whether Pete Buttigieg, the millennial mayor who ended his campaign yesterday and endorsed Biden in front of a restaurant in Dallas earlier this evening, will make another appearance.”
Earlier, Biden and Buttigieg were photographed together in Texas. CBS News reported Biden compared the 38-year-old Buttigieg to his son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, who died of brain cancer in 2015, at age 46.
Goodbye Hardball Chris, Goodbye Politics as Macho Sport?
Some of the journalists and media observers tweeting about Chris Matthews’ departure from Hardball described how much Matthews had represented a particular approach to political journalism that they would also like to see retired.
My colleague Oliver Laughland reports that Pete Buttigeg endorsed Joe Biden for president outside Chicken Scratch, a restaurant in Dallas, rather than at the big rally Biden is holding tonight.
It’s not immediately clear why that’s the case, though Buttigieg’s senior adviser, Lis Smith, tweeted repeatedly about the difference between the “big rally” in Dallas and what Buttigieg’s team set up separately.
More reactions to Chris Matthews resignation
His history of inappropriate behavior towards women goes back decades. But some Washington political journalists are paying tribute to MSNBC host Chris Matthews.
Among those praising Matthews tonight is Mother Jones reporter David Corn, who was investigated for inappropriate workplace behavior towards women in 2014, allegations that were revisited again in 2017, Politico reported that year.
Matthews “signed off with grace,” Corn wrote.
Fellow MSNBC colleagues called him a “giant” and shared fond memories.
I’m in Dallas at a packed rally for Joe Biden. This is a large and diverse crowd that are clearly pumped to see what happens on stage tonight, as other centrists Democrats fall in line behind Biden.
It’s a marked contrast from some of Biden’s earlier events, which critics have labelled dry and a little rambling.
Before tonight, one of the major contrasts between Sanders and Biden, policy aside, has been their respective abilities to draw large crowds and excite an array of voters.
Speaking in Dallas, Buttigieg endorses Biden
“When I ran for president, we made it clear that the whole idea was about rallying the country together to beat Donald Trump. And to win the era for the values that we share. And that always a goal that was much bigger than me becoming president. And it is in the name of that very same goal that I am delighted to endorse and support Joe Biden for president.”
Confusingly, while Buttigieg is endorsing Biden in Dallas, he did not endorse him at the main rally where Biden is speaking tonight.
Reactions to Chris Matthews’ Resignation from MSNBC
In announcing his own retirement on air tonight, following a conversation with network executives, Chris Matthews cited a generational divide, and changing attitudes about what is appropriate in the workplace.
“Compliments on a woman’s appearance some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay were never okay. Certainly not today. For making such comments in the past, I’m sorry,” Matthews said.
That framing is false, feminist journalist Jessica Valenti writes: “His behavior was always wrong.”
Tonight’s theme song, as centrist Democrats literally get in formation behind Joe Biden at his Texas rally tonight in Dallas.
Out of the presidential race and reportedly lining up behind Biden (and against Bernie Sanders): Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke.
Beto O’Rourke May Also Endorse Biden in Texas Tonight
Joe Biden’s rally here in Dallas is set to get underway shortly. It’s expected that Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota who dropped out of the race earlier today will appear on stage with the former Vice President to offer her endorsement.
There are also reports suggesting that former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg will also appear to endorse Biden. The two were pictured in Texas a short while ago.
And just minutes ago, it was reported that former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and fellow failed presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is also set to endorse Biden. The New York Times is reporting that O’Rourke may also appear at the event tonight. I just asked a Biden press person here if that’s accurate and the response was: “I have no idea.”
These centrist endorsements are coming in thick and fast now, and it appears not even people on the Biden campaign are keeping up.
Chris Matthews announces his retirement, citing his remarks about women
The veteran MSNBC host Chris Matthews announced his immediate retirement from Hardball, citing his inappropriate comments about women and a conversation with network executives.
“The younger generation” is “improving the workplace” with “better standards than we grew up with, fairer standards,” Matthews said.
Matthews said “compliments on a woman’s appearance” that some men, himself included, once “incorrectly thought were OK, were never OK.”
Freelance journalist Laura Bassett wrote for GQ on 28 February about Matthews’ inappropriate flirtatious remarks about her when she was on his show, part of what she described as a long history of “inviting smart women onto his show, flirting with them or otherwise making them uncomfortable before or while the camera rolls, asking them a question on air and then immediately interrupting them to tell them why they’re wrong.”
Matthews’ on-air comments in the past days have sparked repeated calls for him to be fired. First, he compared Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday to the Nazi invasion of France.
Then, in an interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren, he repeatedly questioned why she thought rival presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg would have lied about the employee who claimed he told her to “kill it” when she said she was pregnant.
“And why would he lie?” Matthews said. “Just to protect himself?”
In her GQ piece, Bassett cited Matthews’ interview with Warren as part of a long pattern of sexist and inappropriate behavior, and wrote that he was “unfit for his job”.
The decision to keep “a man with this flagrant bias as the anchor of a major cable-news evening show” was “downright irresponsible,” she wrote.
After Matthews announced he was retiring, Bassett tweeted, “It’s about time.”
She wrote that she had faced “invasive, cruel and personal” harassment this week in the wake of making public allegations about Matthews’ behavior towards her.
“And it’s all worth it if he will never have the platform to demean and objectify us again,” she wrote.
My colleague Oliver Laughland is in Dallas, Texas, where Joe Biden is holding a campaign event tonight and will be endorsed by Amy Klobuchar and, reportedly, Pete Buttigieg.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is holding a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is pouring almost half a billion dollars of his vast fortune into creating the most expensive nomination bid in US history.
A new Guardian video breaks down the four key issues that could derail Bloomberg’s campaign for the White House.
You can also watch the video here.
Mike Pence: ‘I travel all the time...Use common sense and wash your hands.’
At an on-camera briefing, the vice-president was asked if he would feel comfortable traveling across the country or to Disney World right now, PBS News Hour’s White House Correspondent reports.
“I travel across country all the time,” Pence said. “This is a time to use common sense and wash your hands.”
Alcindor also notes that Pence’s count of coronavirus cases in the United States, 43, is much lower than the count by media outlets like CNN:
Bloomberg is pouring money into Facebook ads about coronavirus
New: between 27 February and today, Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign spent more than $885,000 on ads about coronavirus, like the one below.
None of the other presidential candidates appear to be mentioning coronavirus in their Facebook campaign ads.
This data comes from my analysis of Facebook’s political ad archive application programming interface, or API, which the company introduced in 2018, as one of the reforms the company introduced in the wake of revelations about how Russia used Facebook’s platform to interfere in the US election.
More background on how Bloomberg is spending tens of millions of dollars on close to 2bn impressions of targeted Facebook ads, and on how experts on disinformation have criticized his campaign’s misleading ads.
Trump unenthusiastic about giving federal funds to ‘rich’ drug companies to expedite coronavirus vaccine
Trump met with pharmaceutical executives today for a briefing on efforts to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, and what the federal government could do to assist the process.
Asked whether the president would considering steering additional federal funds to any of the companies present to speed up research and development of a vaccine, the president “seemed cool to the idea”, the White House pool reporter noted.
“Some of them are so rich,” Trump joked about the drug companies present, “they can actually loan money to the federal government.”
Trump did indicate his administration would work to streamline the federal drug process to get treatments to market. Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-president, both praised the drug companies with executives present at the meeting for for pledging to share information and otherwise collaborate to more quickly development effective coronavirus treatments.
“You’re competitors but in this case it’s different,” Trump said. “I love the complementary, if you can do that.”
The consensus update from the White House meeting was that a coronavirus vaccine would take at least a year to a year and a half to develop, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director.
But therapeutic human trials could begin this spring, as early as April.
Trump hints at further travel restrictions from ‘certain countries’
At a White House meeting today with executives from major pharmaceutical companies, Trump hinted that his administration is eyeing new travel restrictions to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Yes, we are,” the president in response to a press question, “from certain countries where they’re having more of a breakout.” He declined up name the specific countries, according to the White House pool reporter.
Donald Trump supporters awaiting his campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, expressed confidence in the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and accused Democrats of playing political games.
“Nobody knows what to expect but he’s got a lot of people around him that know how to handle this,” said Suzette Gerhardt, wearing a pink “Women for Trump” cap and T-shirt. “He’s listening to their advice and I believe he’s doing all he can. People are criticising but it’s not like they would do anything different.”
Gerhardt, 57, a real estate agent, added: “I think the Democrats talk out of both sides of their mouths. They’re exploiting it to their benefit. They haven’t given him any credit on the economy, the jobs he’s created or anything good he’s done.”
Critics have suggested that the virus has brutally exposed Trump’s incompetence and could ultimately cost him the election. But David Walters, 65, an electrical contractor, insisted: “He’s doing as much as he can. He made some good initial decisions to not let certain people into the country.
“The health secretary did a good job of explaining that this is like flu and you need to take precautions but not panic. At this point it is serious but I think they’re doing a good job. I don’t know what else they could do.”
A 51-year-old woman, who gave her name only as Rebecca J, backed the president’s allegations of a hoax. “I thought that was all fake news,” she said. “He was saying it’s not as bad as people make out. It’s scary, don’t get me wrong, but I’m good.”
A 43-year-old man, who gave his name only as Scott S, rejoined: “We pray God is strong and we trust the Lord.”
Lois Beckett here, taking over our politics live blog on the day before Super Tuesday.
In a joint statement, the heads of the justice department, the state department, the defense department, the Department of Homeland Security and other major national security agencies are warning voters to be on the lookout for disinformation and propaganda from foreign actors as they head to the polls.
From the statement:
“Foreign actors continue to try to influence public sentiment and shape voter perceptions. They spread false information and propaganda about political processes and candidates on social media in hopes to cause confusion and create doubt in our system. We remain alert and ready to respond to any efforts to disrupt the 2020 elections. We continue to make it clear to foreign actors that any effort to undermine our democratic processes will be met with sharp consequences....A well-informed and vigilant republic is the best defense against disinformation.”
Today so far
That’s it from me today. I’m handing the blog over to my west coast colleague, Lois Beckett, for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Amy Klobuchar is dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary, further narrowing the field as Joe Biden attempts to consolidate the support of moderate Democrats.
- Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg reportedly plan to endorse Biden at his Dallas rally tonight, presenting a message of unity to voters before tomorrow’s crucial Super Tuesday contests.
- Biden saw a wave of endorsements from prominent Democrats – including the former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the former national security adviser Susan Rice and a number of Democratic lawmakers in Super Tuesday states.
- Senate Republicans are seeking to continue their investigation of Joe Biden and his family, as the former vice-president sees his primary prospects brighten.
- The US markets surged after last week’s steep losses due to coronavirus fears, even as Washington state reported six total deaths from the disease so far.
- The supreme court will hear an Obamacare case in its next term, which starts in October, meaning a decision won’t come until after the presidential election.
Lois will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Markets surge despite more US coronavirus deaths
The US markets have seen a rally, despite the news that Washington state has now seen six total deaths from coronvirus.
The Guardian’s Graeme Wearden reports:
The Dow Jones industrial average has leapt by 1,293 points, its biggest-ever points gain.
That’s quite a turnaround, after posting its biggest points loss on Thursday.
In percentage terms, that’s a 5.1% gain -- a very strong day (not a record though!). It brings some relief to investors after last week’s 12.4% slump. ...
Clearly traders are hoping for progress towards coordinated action tomorrow when central bankers and finance chiefs meet.
Follow the Guardian’s business live blog for more updates:
Now that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have dropped out of the presidential primary, what happens to the pledged delegates they have already won?
The answer to that question is a bit complicated and will matter far more if no candidate can win a majority of pledged delegates before Democrats hold their nominating convention in July.
Buttigieg won 26 pledged delegates from the four early voting states, while Klobuchar won 7.
The two candidates’ delegates will still go to the July convention, but Buttigieg and Klobuchar would have the option to “release” their delegates, allowing them to back another candidate.
If they did release their delegates, those delegates would likely support Joe Biden, the candidate who Buttigieg and Klobuchar are reportedly endorsing, because the Democratic National Committee’s delegate selection rules say that pledged delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”
Again, all of this becomes much more important if there is a contested convention, where no candidate has won a majority of pledged delegates. Then again, FiveThirtyEight currently puts the chances of a contested convention at about 2 in 3, so it could end up mattering greatly.
Here’s another important thing to keep in mind as we head into Super Tuesday: hundreds of thousands of people have already voted early.
That could stunt the potential success of Joe Biden, who is riding a wave of momentum from his landslide victory in South Carolina and a number of endorsements from prominent Democrats.
Some states, like Michigan, give voters the chance to “spoil” their ballots in order to obtain a new one, but Texas and California, the two biggest prizes on Super Tuesday, do not allow that.
So candidates who have dropped out in the past couple days, such as Pete Buttigieg, will likely still receive thousands of votes tomorrow that could have gone elsewhere.
Susan Rice, former national security adviser under Barack Obama, has also endorsed Joe Biden.
Biden has picked up a number of endorsements from prominent Democrats today, most notably his former primary opponents Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
The endorsements are a clear effort by moderate and establishment Democrats to consolidate their support around Biden, as frontrunner Bernie Sanders looks to secure an insurmountable delegate lead on Super Tuesday tomorrow.
Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden stand to benefit the most from Amy Klobuchar’s withdrawal, according to a CBS News poll taken in January.
Of course, the race has shifted considerably since the January poll was taken, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
Regardless, those numbers will likely cause some jitters among Bernie Sanders’ supporters heading into Super Tuesday tomorrow.
Joe Biden attacked Bernie Sanders as a threat to down-ballot Democrats in a CBS News interview set to air later today.
“It’s not going to be enough just to beat Donald Trump. We have to win back the Senate, we have to keep the House,” Biden said.
The former vice president noted some vulnerable Democrats have expressed concerns that a Sanders nomination would jeopardize their own campaigns.
“Whether they’re right or not, those people who are running for those offices think that Bernie was not likely to help them, but hurt them in their pursuit of their Senate or their House seat or their governor’s seat,” Biden said.
Echoing his South Carolina victory speech, Biden argued voters were looking for “results” rather than the “revolution” promised by Sanders.
“It’s going to be a real choice that the Democrats are going to have to make between a revolution and results,” Biden said. “I admire Bernie, but I think that what he’s proposing is he keeps going for this revolution. I think people are looking for results.”
Pete Buttigieg reportedly intends to endorse Joe Biden at his Dallas rally tonight, appearing alongside former opponent Amy Klobuchar.
A charter flight scheduled to travel from Buttigieg’s hometown of South Bend, Indiana, to Dallas had already raised eyebrows, and a source confirmed the former mayor’s plans to CNN.
The visual of Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar sharing a stage is clearly meant to send a message to moderates: it’s time to consolidate before Super Tuesday.
Joe Biden’s landslide victory in South Carolina appears to have come at the exact right moment to boost his campaign as frontrunner Bernie Sanders seemed poised to secure a significant delegate lead on Super Tuesday.
Biden defeated Sanders by more than 28 points on Saturday, and that performance helped quiet concerns about whether the former vice president was capable of defeating Trump.
With only three days between the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday, Biden can benefit from the momentum of his win while avoiding the closer scrutiny that may have come with a longer lag time between contests.
The country will see tomorrow whether Biden can mitigate Sanders’ delegate gains, but the trajectory of this primary certainly looks very different than it did four days ago.
Pete Buttigieg may be joining Amy Klobuchar at Joe Biden’s Dallas rally tonight, if charter plane schedules are any indication.
Buttigieg and Klobuchar repeatedly sparred on the debate stage, but the pair now appear ready to come together to promote Biden as he tries to consolidate the support of moderate voters.
Mike Bloomberg said he spoke to Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar after they dropped out, and the former New York mayor oddly noted that his former opponents had “behaved themselves.”
Even though Bloomberg said he entered the race to stop Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination, he showed no sign of dropping out to help Joe Biden further consolidate the moderate vote.
“I felt sorry for them, but I’m in it to win it,” Bloomberg said.
Harry Reid endorses Biden
It’s a good day to be Joe Biden. The former vice president is picking up endorsements from a number of prominent Democrats today -- including former Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
“President Donald Trump has done unspeakable damage to our country, our institutions and the rule of law. Democrats need a candidate who can assemble the largest, most diverse coalition possible to defeat Trump and lead our country following the trauma of Trump’s presidency,” Reid said in a statement. “That candidate is Joe Biden.”
Reid participated in the Nevada caucuses last month, but the former Senate leader said he voted “uncommitted” for all three of his preferences in order to avoid putting his thumb on the scale for any candidate.
However, Reid’s endorsement of Biden is unsurprising considering the narrowing field. The pair worked together in the Senate for decades, and Reid has expressed doubts about Bernie Sanders’ signature campaign promise, Medicare for all.
The exits of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are undeniably good news for Joe Biden, who is trying to consolidate the support of moderate voters in the Democratic primary.
But there are a few important caveats to keep in mind about Biden benefitting from Klobuchar and Buttigieg withdrawing.
First, the polling is unclear about whether Biden is actually the top second choice for Klobuchar and Buttigieg supporters. Some polls indicate Bernie Sanders is popular among Buttigieg voters, for example, and the candidates’ endorsements of Biden may not sway many of their supporters.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Mike Bloomberg will be on the ballot tomorrow and could pick off some of the moderate voters who would otherwise be inclined to support Biden.
Finally, Elizabeth Warren remains in the race, and the Massachusetts senator’s campaign has expressed confidence that she will benefit from a narrowed race.
All of those elements will be put to the test tomorrow, when 14 states head to the polls for Super Tuesday.
Buttigieg reportedly plans to endorse Biden
Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are really competing with each other right until the bitter end of their campaigns.
Moments after news broke that Klobuchar would withdraw from the race and endorse Joe Biden, Buttigieg’s campaign said he would also be endorsing the former vice president.
Buttigieg reportedly spoke to Biden and former preisdent Barack Obama last night, after announcing he would suspend his campaign.
The former Indiana mayor had been leaning toward endorsing Biden, and the announcement will provide Biden with another boost heading into tomorrow’s crucial Super Tuesday contests.
The timing of Amy Klobuchar’s withdrawal also appears designed to get one last jab in at Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out last night.
Klobuchar and Buttigieg presented similar arguments for why they were the best candidate to represent Democrats, claiming their Midwestern backgrounds were best suited to defeating Trump.
But Klobuchar repeatedly criticized Buttigieg during Democratic debates, arguing the 38-year-old mayor was not experienced enough to become president.
By dropping out a day after Buttigieg’s withdrawal, Klobuchar has secured her own news cycle dedicated to her exit.
Her expected endorsement of Joe Biden tonight also distinguishes her from Buttigieg, who is reportedly leaning toward backing Biden but has not done so yet.
Political reporters weigh in: Amy Klobuchar’s exit increases the likelihood of a two-person race for the nomination between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
Klobuchar’s withdrawal also increases the stakes for Elizabeth Warren going into Super Tuesday tomorrow:
Considering Klobuchar’s strong performance in New Hampshire, her exit also raises even more questions about the value in two mostly white states voting first:
Amy Klobuchar has reportedly informed her campaign staff she is dropping out of of the Democratic presidential primary.
Klobuchar’s departure leaves five candidates in the race: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard.
Combined with Pete Buttigieg’s exit last night, the moderate candidates appear to be looking to consolidate support around Biden before tomorrow’s crucial Super Tuesday contests.
Amy Klobuchar ending presidential campaign, endorsing Biden
Amy Klobuchar has reportedly decided to suspend her presidential campaign and endorse Joe Biden.
The Minnesota senator exceeded expectations in New Hampshire, where she finished in third place, but her sixth-place performances in Nevada and South Carolina raised serious questions about her path to the nomination.
New national poll shows Sanders and Biden neck and neck
A new post-South Carolina poll shows Joe Biden pulling nearly even with Bernie Sanders.
According to the Morning Consult poll, Biden has climbed up to 26%, while Sanders has dropped slightly to 29%. Those numbers represent a 7-point bump for Biden and a 3-point slump for Sanders.
Mike Bloomberg is holding steady in third place at 17%, but the poll is already slightly out-of-date because it includes Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out last night.
The poll indicates Biden may be getting a national bump from his landslide victory in South Carolina, but the true test of his support will come tomorrow on Super Tuesday.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands as of now:
- The Supreme Court said it would take up a case challenging Obamacare in its next term, which begins in October, so a decision is not expected until after the presidential election.
- Pete Buttigieg is reportedly leaning toward endorsing Joe Biden after the former Indiana mayor dropped out of the presidential primary last night.
- Senate Republicans want to continue an investigation into the business activities of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, as the former vice president sees his primary prospects brighten after a landslide victory in South Carolina.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Mike Bloomberg used his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to bash Bernie Sanders, who has refused to attend AIPAC’s annual gathering.
“Unfortunately, not all of my fellow Democrats in this race have attended an AIPAC conference,” Bloomberg said. “One of them, Senator Sanders, has spent 30 years boycotting this event. And as you’ve heard by now, he called AIPAC a racist platform. Well let me tell you, he’s dead wrong.”
Bloomberg touched on his own experiences as a Jewish American to warn about the dangers of anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism is hardly the exclusive domain of any one group. It can be found on both the right and the left, on town squares and campus quads,” Bloomberg said.
The former New York mayor then offered implicit criticism of Trump without mentioning the president’s name. “But there is one fact that we cannot ignore: Presidential leadership matters,” Bloomberg said. “It sets a tone. It is either inclusive or exclusive, divisive or uniting, incendiary or calming.”
Bloomberg is the only Democratic presidential candidate attending AIPAC. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have said they won’t participate, and Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar appeared by video.
Texas congresswoman Veronica Escobar has endorsed Joe Biden, the latest in a stream of lawmakers from Super Tuesday states to announce support for the former vice president.
Those endorsements could help Biden turn out voters in crucial states tomorrow, and they could be key to a victory if the nominating contest extends to the convention, as a Texas Tribune reporter noted:
The progressive group Democracy for America has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ White House bid after holding a vote among its members.
Sanders won nearly 80% of the DFA membership vote, compared to 13% for second-place Elizabeth Warren. No other candidate received more than 3%.
The endorsement is a bit of a slap in the face for Warren, considering the group encouraged her to launch a presidential campaign in 2016.
“Bernie Sanders has built a powerful multi-racial, multi-generational movement and we’re excited to join the campaign at this critical moment in the Democratic race,” DFA chair Charles Chamberlain said in a statement.
“The overwhelming support for Bernie we saw in our member vote should be a wake-up call to the broken, visionless, corporate Democratic establishment.”
Senate Republicans look to continue Biden investigation
Senate Republicans appear to be resuming efforts to investigate Joe Biden and his family, as the former vice president’s primary prospects rise after his South Carolina victory.
Trump’s impeachment focused on whether the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter.
The issue appeared to be abandoned in recent weeks, as Bernie Sanders simultaneously became the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
But Trump’s Senate allies now seem to be resurrecting the issue as moderate Democrats look to consolidate support around Biden.
Pete Buttigieg spoke to Joe Biden and Barack Obama yesterday after dropping out of the race, according to the New York Times.
The Times reports:
Mr. Biden asked for Mr. Buttigieg’s support and the former mayor indicated he would consider the request. Mr. Buttigieg wants to sleep on the decision, he told aides, some of whom believe he should move quickly to endorse Mr. Biden.
Mr. Obama did not specifically encourage Mr. Buttigieg to endorse Mr. Biden, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. But Mr. Obama did note that Mr. Buttigieg has considerable leverage at the moment and should think about how best to use it.
If Buttigieg does endorse Biden today, it could give the former vice president another boost before tomorrow’s crucial Super Tuesday contests.
As expected, Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth has endorsed Joe Biden ahead of her state’s March 17 primary.
“As a combat Veteran and former Assistant VA Secretary, I know that Joe Biden won’t just pay lip service to those sacrifices, he’ll make sure our troops and Veterans receive the support, care and respect they’ve earned,” Duckworth said in a statement released by Biden’s campaign.
Biden has received a flood of endorsements since his landslide victory in South Carolina, as a number of Democratic lawmakers apparently try to consolidate support against Bernie Sanders.
Trump defended the safety of holding campaign rallies with the coronavirus spreading, as the president prepares for another rally in the Super Tuesday state of North Carolina tonight.
“Well this was set up a long time ago, and others are,” Trump said when asked about his rally tonight.
“You could ask that to the Democrats. ... They’re all having rallies, that’s what they’re doing, they’re campaigning. ... I think it’s very safe.”
Elizabeth Warren has released a plan to combat coronavirus, which includes a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to avoid an economic downturn tied to the health threat.
Warren would also create an “emergency paid leave program” to easily allow anyone showing symptoms to get time off work and ensure Americans have free evaluation and care for coronavirus.
“Coronavirus is a public health emergency and a serious threat to the American economy,” Warren wrote on her website.
“While it’s important that our leaders communicate calmly and clearly about the situation to avoid unnecessary panic, it’s just as important that we take decisive action to keep American families healthy and stabilize our economy as the virus spreads.”
And here’s another endorsement for Joe Biden: freshman Democratic congressman Gil Cisneros of California has announced his support for the former vice president.
“From New Castle County Council to the United States Senate to the right-hand man of President Obama, Vice President Biden has proven time and time again that he has the experience and temperament to unite our country,” Cisneros said in a statement released by the Biden campaign.
Biden has picked up a number of endorsements from lawmakers in Super Tuesday states since his landslide victory in South Carolina, indicating the more moderate members of the party are trying to consolidate support around him.
For vulnerable incumbents like Cisneros, a Biden endorsement has the added benefit of putting some distance between them and Bernie Sanders, who may be seen as too progressive in their swing districts.
Trump said he will discuss a possible coronavirus vaccine with pharmaceutical executives today.
“We’re talking about a vaccine, maybe even a cure,” the president told reporters after the White House press pool was unexpectedly called in to the Oval Office.
The president’s meeting with pharmaceutical executives was previously supposed to focus on drug prices.
Joe Biden is picking up key endorsements in March voting states, as the former vice president becomes the leading moderate candidate in the presidential primary.
Biden has already secured endorsements from a number of lawmakers in Super Tuesday states like Virginia and North Carolina.
Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, which has 155 pledged delegates up for grabs and will vote on March 17, will now also reportedly endorse Biden.
Buttigieg reportedly likely to endorse Biden
Pete Buttigieg is likely to endorse Joe Biden’s presidential bid after dropping out of the race, according to CNN.
Reports emerged last night that the pair had exchanged voicemails as Buttigieg announced he would withdraw from the Democratic primary.
It now appears the former Indiana mayor is leaning toward backing Biden, but it’s unclear whether he will do so before tomorrow’s crucial Super Tuesday contests.
Polling is also muddled on whether Buttigieg’s supporters are inclined to back Biden. Some surveys indicate Bernie Sanders is the second choice of most Buttigieg supporters, while other polls say those voters prefer candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
This will actually mark the third time the Supreme Court has decided the fate of Obamacare. The justices have twice upheld the healthcare law, in 2012 and 2015.
Chief justice John Roberts, who was appointed by former Republican president George W Bush, memorably sided with his more liberal colleagues to keep the law in place in 2012, when Barack Obama was seeking reelection.
Roberts and those four liberal justices remain on the court today, which could be a good sign for the law’s future.
The news of the Supreme Court taking up an Obamacare case is another reminder of how far apart the presidential candidates remain on the issue of healthcare.
Bernie Sanders has said he wants to create a government-run, single-payer healthcare system, which would eliminate the need for Obamacare.
But Joe Biden has said he wants to build on the former president’s signature healthcare law by adding a public option to the policy.
Biden took a swipe at Sanders for his stance on Obamacare while delivering his victory speech in South Carolina on Saturday.
“Democrats want to nominate someone who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it,” Biden told the crowd.
And of course, Trump would like to repeal Obamacare altogether and replace it with something better -- but the president has provided no details on what that “something better” would look like.
Supreme Court to hear Obamacare case
The Supreme Court has announced it will hear a case on whether a part of Obamacare is unconstiutional.
The justices said they would take up the case in their next term, which begins in October, so a decision is not expected until after the 2020 election.
The healthcare law will remain in effect until then, so its future will become even more of a top concern in this year’s presidential election.
The announcement comes after a federal appeals court ruled in December that Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires every American to have health insurance, was unconstitutional, casting doubt upon the rest of the law.
Nineteen Democratic states appealed the decision, which will now be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
Pete Buttigieg’s fourth-place finish in South Carolina on Saturday sealed his decision to withdraw from the presidential primary, as it became clear the young former mayor’s struggle to appeal to voters of color would plague his candidacy on Super Tuesday.
The AP reports:
Less than two hours after holding what would be his final rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, Buttigieg was hunkered on the phone in a hotel near Americus, Georgia, working out the details of ending his campaign, people familiar with the conversation said. ...
Having laid out a narrow but viable path to the nomination through an uncertain state-by-state fight, advisers painted a picture of a difficult road ahead.
After someone interjected that Buttigieg should speak, the candidate, known for an understated deliberative style, noted effectively that if the conversation had reached that point the decision was pretty clear.
Though there were details to work out about how to handle his appearances on Sunday news programs, the conversation quickly turned to the logistics of pulling down his Texas campaign events scheduled for Sunday and how to arrange for the speech in South Bend.
I’m just about to hand over to Joan Greve in Washington. In the meantime, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference is on today, and there’s a live stream on their website. There will be speeches in the next couple of hours from vice president Mike Pence, Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg and Senator Cory Booker. You can watch it here.
One quirk of Pete Buttigieg dropping out of the race to be the Democratic nomination at the weekend is that now Joe Biden, incredibly, is the youngest man seeking to be the Democrats’ next nominee.
At 77, he is younger than both Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, who are both 78. All of which makes Donald Trump’s 73 years look positively sprightly.
Of the remaining women, Elizabeth Warren is 70, Amy Klobuchar is 59, and Tulsi Gabbard is a very youthful 38.
This looks like a chewy read to keep you busy for a bit over a coffee. Atlantic magazine have just published their cover story for April online. By George Packer, he is arguing that “The president is winning his war on American institutions”.
The [political class] were too sophisticated to see Trump’s special political talents—his instinct for every adversary’s weakness, his fanatical devotion to himself, his knack for imposing his will, his sheer staying power…They didn’t grasp the readiness of large numbers of Americans to accept, even relish, Trump’s contempt for democratic norms and basic decency. It took the arrival of such a leader to reveal how many things that had always seemed engraved in monumental stone turned out to depend on those flimsy norms, and how much the norms depended on public opinion. Their vanishing exposed the real power of the presidency.
Read it here - The Atlantic: The president is winning his war on American institutions
It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of Super Tuesday tomorrow.
14 states across the country – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia – as well as one US territory (American Samoa) and Democrats abroad will cast their votes on the same day.
Between them, more than a third of available delegates are up for grabs. Here’s a refresher on what to expect on the night: What is Super Tuesday?
Among those states, it is California which could carry the most weight. It is the first time that the state’s primary has been part of the Super Tuesday line-up, and California will send a total of 495 delegates to the Democratic national convention. Here’s a guide specifically for how the day will unfold on the west coast.
Trump to meet drug company executives over coronavirus
Reuters have just published a few more details of the meeting that Donald Trump is expected to have today with drug company executives.
The White House has not said which pharmaceutical makers would be at today’s meeting with the president and his White House coronavirus task force. However it is now known that executives from Sanofi SA, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc will attend, according to representatives for the companies.
Trump, in an early morning tweet, said they would discuss “progress on a vaccine and cure.”
Top US health officials have said any vaccine is at least a year from hitting the market, and there is no treatment, although patients can receive supportive care.
The number of coronavirus cases has ticked up in recent days, with more than 75 confirmed cases in the US, including two deaths. Both deaths occurred in Washington state where a cluster of cases is centered on a nursing home near Seattle. New York and Florida, among other U.S. states, have also confirmed cases.
Some slightly unconventional reports coming out of the Trump campaign today that they are planning to fly a blimp over swing states during the summer.
The blimp with Trump logos is apparently set to fly between May and July, and will encourage Trump supporters to text the campaign in a move aimed at helping to refine the campaign’s data on voters in key states.
There’s no indication yet of what the blimp might look like - although it is unlikely to be adopting the design of the controversial Trump baby blimp that has flown over London in recent years when the president has been visiting the UK.
Mike Bloomberg and president Trump are having a little tit-for-tat over on Twitter. One of Trump’s early morning flurry of tweets today mentioned Bloomberg, criticising his “bad debate performances” and his handling of a crises when he was New York’s mayor.
Bloomberg has just taken a swipe back, linking to a piece from the Washington Post and describing it as a “Very sad Washington Post story with your own aides trashing you and making fun of you behind your back.”
The piece, from a couple of days ago, was a widely shared story headlined “Inside Trump’s frantic attempts to minimize the coronavirus crisis”
My colleague Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco has an interesting dive into where employees of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Uber, Tesla and SpaceX, Oracle and Microsoft are donating their dollars during this election campaign.
It is not perhaps a huge surprise that a workforce that skews towards youth is also, like the demographics of the race to the White House as a whole, skewing towards Bernie Sanders.
California votes tomorrow, and with 415 pledged delegates on offer, it is the biggest prize for Democrats on Super Tuesday.
You can have a look at the figures - and how little cash Donald Trump is raising from these people - here:
As time goes on and we get closer to Super Tuesday, some people have begun to question why former president Barack Obama is yet to endorse the man who was his VP for eight years - Joe Biden.
Jeff Zeleny has been looking at this, and an Obama confidant told CNN: “[Obama] feels that he’s singularly positioned to help unify the party at the end of this. And if he were try to put his thumb on the scale now, it would take away his ability to do so when it’s most needed -- the general election.”
It also seems like the Obama team are concerned that an early endorsement might “backfire”.
You can read the full piece here - CNN: Obama tells Biden he won’t endorse anybody yet
Trump is up and tweeting, and confirming that he will be meeting “major pharmaceutical companies today at the White House” with regard to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed two people in the US.
The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak exceeded 3,000 on Monday. Covid-19 has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to more than 60 countries.
Bill Kristol has come out strongly for Joe Biden this morning in The Bulwark, urging readers not to “overthink your Super Tuesday vote”.
Though the situation is complex, the answer actually is simple. Whatever the substantive case for either Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, and despite the flashes of electoral strength each has shown, neither is going to be the nominee. And despite what once seemed a possible, though unconventional, path to the nomination, it’s not going to be Mike Bloomberg either. So it’s Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. Which means, if you’re inclined toward American constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and a free economic order–as well as a liberal world order anchored by the United States–it’s Joe Biden.
It feels like one of those endorsements that might end up energising the Sanders’ support base as much as it manages to shift any floating voters in Biden’s direction.
You can read it here - The Bulwark: The Simple Answer
Senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice Theodore R Johnson has written for us, urging people not to assume that the whole of black America has spoken in South Carolina with the overwhelming victory that Joe Biden enjoyed in the state.
Unlike in previous presidential primaries, black voters nationally are unlikely to coalesce behind a single candidate this early. And given the range of ideological positions among the Democratic field of candidates – from Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren further to the left and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg filling the centrist lane – the political diversity within the black electorate will find expression in ways often muted in years with presumptive nominees.
You can read his piece here:
“You’ve probably seen more ads for Michael Bloomberg than the rest of us running for president put together” says Elizabeth Warren in one of her new campaign ads.
CBS News have an interesting piece here on just where the Democrats ad-spend is going before Super Tuesday. It is no surprise who is spending the most.
Leading up to Super Tuesday, Bloomberg has spent more than $170 million on ads in the fourteen states holding contests…Apart from Bloomberg, only Sanders is airing TV and radio ads in nearly all Super Tuesday states, a move that can be chalked up to his success in record-breaking grassroots fundraising.
Buttigieg was also advertising heavily before he pulled the plug on his campaign at the weekend. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden have been more likely to rely on Super PAC money. Warren’s campaign has spent less than $2 million on ads, but the Persist PAC supporting her has splashed out $12m.
Read the full analysis here - CBS News: Where are candidates spending on the airwaves before Super Tuesday?
Away from the Democratic race for a moment, yesterday a federal judge ruled that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to lead the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency and, as a result, lacked authority to give asylum seekers less time to prepare for initial screening interviews.
Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and an immigration hardliner, was named to a new position of “principal deputy director” in June, which immediately made him acting director because Lee Francis Cissna had just resigned. The agency grants green cards and other visas and also oversees asylum officers.
US District Judge Randolph Moss in Washington found Cuccinelli’s appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a 1998 law governing who is eligible to lead federal agencies in an acting capacity. The impact of the ruling wasn’t immediately clear.
Donald Trump has favoured temporary appointments. At Homeland Security, Chad Wolf is acting secretary, and the heads of Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services are also in acting roles.
Homeland Security Department spokesperson Heather Swift said, “We obviously disagree with the court’s opinion and are looking more closely at it.”
Cuccinelli is now acting deputy Homeland Security secretary, the department’s No. 2 position. Joseph Edlow, a longtime congressional aide who joined Citizenship and Immigration Services in July, was named last month to run the agency’s day-to-day operations.
There will a lot of post-mortems of the Buttigieg campaign published today - here’s a fine one from Elena Schneider in Politico:
Buttigieg’s rank-and-file supporters defied easy ideological grouping — he battled fiercely with progressive Elizabeth Warren and moderate Amy Klobuchar for voters in recent months, in addition to lobbing calls for “generational change” at Biden and Sanders. The coalition he built did not exist 14 months ago…He was just two years clear of the constitutional age limit to become president. But Buttigieg burst out of obscurity on the strength of his charisma and sharp, viral answers to media questions in the opening months of the campaign.
Read it here - Politico: Inside the sudden end of Pete Buttigieg’s campaign
And here’s a reminder of how his campaign ended:
Mike Bloomberg’s campaigning on Sunday also produced protest images at the historic Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama that he probably would have rather avoided.
Bloomberg’s campaign has been dogged by his history of controversial statements on race, and his record on stop-and-frisk policing while he was mayor of New York. Inviting him to appear at an event commemorating one of the civil rights movement’s most emotional milestones was always likely to be controversial.
Sam Levine and Ankita Rao’s report from the church includes quotes from those who decided to protest Bloomberg’s appearance:
It isn’t just his record on race that risks derailing the Bloomberg bid to be a billionaire president - his troubling record with women could also pose a huge problem for him.
For years he has battled claims that he’s called women “fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians,” allegedly announcing within an employee’s earshot that he would like to “do that piece of meat”, according to court records and other documents. (Bloomberg has denied ever saying the word “meat”). An aide recalled that Bloomberg often remarked “nice tits” upon seeing attractive women.
Lucia Graves has the latest in our series on the billionaire candidate:
More than one of the Democratic challengers had difficult campaigning days on Sunday. Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar ended up cancelling a rally in her home state after protesters took over the stage over the case of a black teen sentenced to life in prison while Klobuchar was the county’s top prosecutor.
Klobuchar was scheduled to speak at St. Louis Park High School in suburban Minneapolis. But dozens of protesters entered the gymnasium, raised signs and chanted “black lives matter” and “Myon,” a reference to Myon Burrell, who was convicted of the murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards.
Burrell was sent to prison for life following a police investigation some say was flawed. Klobuchar has said if there is new information in the case then it should be considered - a response that some activists have said doesn’t go far enough.
Klobuchar has struggled to win support from black voters, a major problem for her campaign, but she has rejected suggestions she drop out of the race, saying she plans to compete at least through the upcoming Super Tuesday contests.
Well then, good morning. It’s an absolutely crucial day of campaigning ahead of Super Tuesday - but it is a campaign that has changed shape dramatically after the events of the weekend.
Firstly Joe Biden’s margin of victory in South Carolina re-energised his bid for the nomination - and also showed that Bernie Sanders had failed to gain ground in a state where he was crushed by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary.
Tom Steyer may have been expected to drop out after a disappointing showing on Saturday – and he did – but it was former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s withdrawal last night that radically alters the situation.
Following his narrow win in Iowa, Buttigieg had already amassed more pledged delegates than Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard combined - yet still couldn’t see a way through to winning the nomination.
It remains to be seen who Mayor Pete will endorse now - and whether we’ve seen the last of him for this election cycle. Could he end up being someone’s pick for VP?
Today Sanders will be in Utah and Minnesota, Biden is due in Texas, and Warren will be campaigning in California. Here’s our guide to Super Tuesday if you want a refresher on what is at stake.
Away from the Democratic race, there’s plenty going on in government. Donald Trump is meeting the Colombian president, having lunch with vice-president Mike Pence, and then meeting members of the Coronavirus Task Force. The US has confirmed approximately 60 cases of the severe respiratory illness with two deaths.
The president will later be at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mike Pence will be putting in an appearance at AIPAC, as will Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden.