by Julia Benarrous, with Michael Mathes in Washington
Joe Biden’s presidential hopes received a major boost Monday after Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the Democratic race and prepared to endorse the former vice president ahead of crucial Super Tuesday primaries.
As candidates including national frontrunner Bernie Sanders make a final pitch to voters in 14 states, Biden has capitalized on the momentum he seized at the weekend with a blowout victory in South Carolina.
The 77-year-old is consolidating support among moderates eager to blunt the advance of Sanders, the leftist senator who could take a potentially insurmountable lead in the all-important delegate count after Super Tuesday.
“Most Americans don’t want a promise of a revolution, they want a guarantee of results on the things that affect them,” Biden told a rally in Houston, Texas in a swipe at Sanders, who advocates a “political revolution” against the status quo.
“We need real results and we need them now. I’ve done that my whole career, and I’ll do it as president,” added Biden, who was to take the stage later Monday in Dallas, where Klobuchar will join him.
The Midwestern senator will officially suspend her campaign and endorse Biden at the rally, a spokesman told AFP.
Biden, now the resurgent establishment favorite, has received a double boost in 24 hours, with former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg bowing out Sunday.
An aide confirmed that Buttigieg spoke by telephone with Biden Sunday night, and US media reported Buttigieg would also endorse his former rival at the Dallas event.
The pair of departures give Biden, whose campaign was on life support just two weeks ago after disappointing showings in the first three state contests, a sudden opening to challenge Sanders on the biggest day of the primary campaign.
But New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who on Tuesday competes in his first primaries, has also been spreading his message to voters in a lavish multi-state ad blitz.
And Sanders — flush with money for ads, an extensive organization, and momentum in the polls — has focused on multiple states including delegate-rich California, Tuesday’s biggest prize.
“In November, Donald Trump is going to learn we are a democracy, not an autocracy, because we’re going to vote him out of office,” he tweeted Monday.
– Race takes a turn –
Sanders, whose ascent as a self-described democratic socialist has disconcerted the party’s establishment, is leading Biden nationally by about nine percentage points, with Bloomberg in third place, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average.
The race, however, has taken a sudden and unexpected twist with the withdrawal of Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Buttigieg, 38, had strong showings in predominantly white early voting states but was unable to draw black and Hispanic support after that.
Despite a few compelling debate performances, 59-year-old Klobuchar never registered above single digits in national polling.
There had been pressure on her to remain in the race through Tuesday in order to win her state of Minnesota, depriving Sanders of a large delegate claim there.
Dropping out and endorsing Biden may accomplish a similar result.
Klobuchar’s endorsement “will bring more votes to Joe Biden,” Myliesha Smiley, a 23-year-old student at Biden’s Houston event, told AFP.
– Resurrection –
Biden’s fortunes were resurrected in South Carolina, where African-Americans turned out in force to give him a crushing 48 percent to 20 percent victory over Sanders.
“Super Tuesday is about momentum, and we’ve got it,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told CNN.
The win has earned Biden badly needed campaign funding — $10 million raised on Saturday and Sunday alone.
The former deputy to president Barack Obama says his strength with blacks, Hispanics, women and suburbanites will show in the coming contests.
With Klobuchar set to endorse Biden, Sanders congratulated her for running a “strong, issues oriented campaign, but also appealed to her voters.
“I hope her supporters will join us in our fight to defeat Donald Trump in November and win real change,” Sanders tweeted.
Also courting moderate and independent voters is Bloomberg, who campaigned in Virginia on Super Tuesday eve.
“I’ve won three elections so far, I don’t plan to start losing now,” Bloomberg told canvassers in Manassas.
Bloomberg has spent an unprecedented $500 million of his own fortune saturating the airwaves with TV spots.
If his strategy does not pay off and he sees no path forward, will he endorse Biden as a way to stop Sanders?
“I’ll have to see at the time,” Bloomberg told a Fox News town hall Monday. “I’m in it to win it.”