HOUSTON: Joe Biden’s presidential hopes received a major campaign boost Monday as fellow centrist Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the Democratic race and prepared to endorse the former vice president on the eve of the 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 when he scored a blowout victory in South Carolina’s primary.
The 77-year-old former vice president is counting on moderate voters coalescing around him to blunt the advance of Sanders, the firebrand leftist senator who is pushing to 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 — a state with a large number of delegates at stake.
“We need real results and we need them now. I’ve done that my whole career, and I’ll do it as president.”
Klobuchar, a senator from the Midwestern state of Minnesota, would be “flying to Dallas to join vice president Biden at his rally tonight where she will suspend her campaign and endorse the vice president,” a Klobuchar campaign 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 of the race Sunday.
An aide confirmed that Buttigieg spoke by telephone with Biden Sunday night, and US media has reported that Buttigieg may soon endorse his former rival.
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.
Biden hoped to cash in on his South Carolina victory, while New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who on Tuesday competes in his first primaries, spreads his message to voters in a lavish multi-state ad blitz.
But Sanders — flush with money for ads, an extensive organization, and momentum in the polls — also 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 an average issued by RealClearPolitics.
The race, however, has taken a sudden and unexpected twist with the withdrawal of Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Buttigieg had strong showings in predominantly white early voting states but was unable to draw black and Hispanic support after that.
“The truth is that the path has narrowed to a close — for our candidacy, if not for our cause,” the 38-year-old told supporters.
Buttigieg did not mention Sanders by name in his speech, but he has repeatedly stated he believes the senator would be too “radical” a candidate to defeat Trump.
Despite a few compelling debate performances, Klobuchar, 59, 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.
Biden’s fortunes were resurrected by his win 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 on Monday.
The win has brought Biden’s badly needed money — $10 million on Saturday and Sunday alone.
The former senator and vice president says his strength with blacks, Hispanics, women and suburbanites will come through in the coming contests.
With Klobuchar set to endorse Biden, Sanders waded in via Twitter to congratulate her for running a “strong, issues oriented campaign, but also to appeal to her voters.
“I hope her supporters will join us in our fight to defeat Donald Trump in November and win real change,” Sanders wrote.
Also courting moderate and independent voters is Bloomberg, who spoke Monday in Washington at the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, at which he promised to keep the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Bloomberg has spent $500 million of his own fortune saturating the airwaves with TV spots, including a three-minute ad on Sunday.
“No other Democrat will defeat Donald Trump,” he boasted on Twitter.