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Wake Up To Politics - March 3, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. 245 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Biden consolidates support ahead of Super Tuesday faceoffs with Sanders

After spending much of the 2020 cycle deeply fractured, the moderate wing of the Democratic Party crowned former Vice President Joe Biden as its leader on Monday — as he prepares to face Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a cross-country series of primaries today.

Three former presidential candidates — former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar — closed ranks around Biden in a day of campaign events and Whataburger stops in Dallas, Texas.

"I cannot think of a better way to end my campaign than joining his," Klobuchar said in remarks from Dallas, which marked both her exit from the presidential race and her addition to the former VP's stable of supporters.

The flurry of endorsements marked a sudden turn of fortune for Biden, who was largely discounted earlier in the year after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire but has rebounded in momentum after a decisive South Carolina victory. They also came at a highly consequential time, with voters in 14 states headed to the polls today. The new developments only accentuated the stark choice faced by Super Tuesday voters: between the calls for moderation espoused by Biden and his newfound allies, and the democratic socialist vision championed by Sanders and his loyal base of revolutionaries.

At a press conference on Monday, Sanders dismissed Biden's new backers: "The establishment will rally around the establishment candidate," he said. "That’s the simple reality." The consolidation behind the ex-vice president was widely seen as a frenzied, last-minute attempt by anxious Democratic leaders to stop the rising Vermont senator, who currently boasts a delegate lead and fundraising edge in the Democratic race.

Sanders is counting on success in today's Super Tuesday contests to expand this advantage, just as Biden needs to do well if he has any hope of denying Sanders the nomination. Critically, Sanders currently holds a comfortable polling lead in California, the biggest delegate prize; meanwhile, Biden leads in many of the large, Southern states voting today, including Virginia and North Carolina. The two are neck-and-neck in Texas, which boasts the second-largest delegate haul of any state.

Of course, the primary campaign is not solely a two-person race (not yet, at least). Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts, is also still running, although she could lose in her home state primary to Sanders today. And then there is former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose name will appear on presidential ballots for the first time today.

"I'm in it to win it," Bloomberg insisted at a Fox News town hall on Monday; the wealthy businessman-turned-politician has spent more than $170 million on radio and television ads in Super Tuesday primaries.

Although both Warren and Bloomberg have faded from the headlines as of late, polling shows them hovering around the 15% viability threshold in a number of Super Tuesday states, meaning they could still walk away from today's contests with a not-insubstantial share of the delegates.

In total, 1,357 delegates are up for grabs across 14 primaries today, accounting for more than one-third of the pledged delegates that will be awarded throughout the Democratic campaign. Here is a roundup of the Super Tuesday states, in descending order of delegate offerings, and a look at the top two contenders in the FiveThirtyEight polling average:

  • California: 415 delegates; polls close 11 p.m. EST; Sanders 31.2%, Biden 21.7%
  • Texas: 228 delegates; polls close 9 p.m. EST; Sanders 28.2%, Biden 25.5%
  • North Carolina: 110 delegates; polls close 7:30 p.m. EST; Biden 34.5%, Sanders 22.1%
  • Virginia: 99 delegates; polls close 7 p.m. EST; Biden 39.9%, Sanders 21%
  • Massachusetts: 91 delegates; polls close 8 p.m. EST; Sanders 24.4%, Warren 20.6%
  • Minnesota: 75 delegates; polls close 9 p.m. EST; Sanders 26.2%, Biden 18%
  • Colorado: 67 delegates; polls close 9 p.m. EST; Sanders 26.8%, Biden 18.2%
  • Tennessee: 64 delegates; polls close 8 p.m. EST; Biden 29%, Sanders 24.7%
  • Alabama: 52 delegates; polls close 8 p.m. EST; Biden 40.2%, Sanders 18.4%
  • Oklahoma: 37 delegates; polls close 8 p.m. EST; Biden 30.6%, Sanders 22.1%
  • Arkansas: 31 delegates; polls close 8:30 p.m. EST; Biden 27.5%, Bloomberg 21%
  • Utah: 29 delegates; polls close 10 p.m. EST; Sanders 26.3%, Biden 20%
  • Maine: 24 delegates; polls close 8 p.m. EST; Sanders 31.1%, Biden 21.7%
  • Vermont: 16 delegates; polls close 7 p.m. EST; Sanders 53%, Warren 14.2%

The Rundown

Super Tuesday congressional primaries to watch: Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions vies for the Alabama Republican Senate nomination. . . Democrats pick their Senate candidates in Texas and North Carolina. . . Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar and Jim Costa and GOP Rep. Kay Granger face stiff primary challenges. More via Politico

Coronavirus update: "With the coronavirus spreading unpredictably and Americans bracing for an increasing impact at home, pressure mounted for global policymakers to respond with financial crisis-style stimulus measures to ward off the threat to households and the world economy."

"As the U.S. death toll rose to six and sparked panic buying, President Trump in a tweet early Tuesday called for a 'big' interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve 'to make up for China’s coronavirus situation and slowdown,' while Group of Seven finance chiefs prepared to discuss how to counter the gathering storm. Central banks in the United States, Japan, Britain and France have hinted publicly at stimulus steps, and markets in Europe gained ground." Washington Post

Chris Matthews out at MSNBC: "'Hardball' host Chris Matthews announced on air Monday that he was leaving the network, days after being accused of making inappropriate flirtatious comments to a guest and comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’s victory in the Nevada caucuses to the World War II Nazi takeover of France." Wall Street Journal


President Donald Trump will address the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., and participate in a roundtable briefing and tour the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health – Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Vice President Mike Pence will meet with members of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucuses, participate in the Senate Republican and Democratic caucus lunches, join President Trump for his visit to the NIH headquarters, and lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting.

The Senate will continue consideration of S.2657, the American Energy Innovation Act, and hold party caucus lunches.

The House will vote on four pieces of legislation: H.Res. 387, a resolution ondemning continued violence against civilians by armed groups in the Central African Republic and supporting efforts to achieve a lasting political solution to the conflict; H.R. 4508, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act; S. 1678, the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019; and H.Res. 230, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States condemns all forms of violence against children globally and recognizes the harmful impacts of violence against children.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will make a campaign stop in Oakland, California, and hold a primary night event in Los Angeles. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will hold a town hall in Detroit, Michigan. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg will make campaign stops in Miami and Orlando, Florida, and watch election results from West Palm Beach. Sen. Bernie Sanders will cast his ballot in Burlington, Vermont, and host a primary night rally featuring The Mallet Brothers Band in Essex Junction. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will cast her ballot in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and hold a Super Tuesday watch party in Detroit, Michigan.

Former Gov. Bill Weld will vote in the Republican primary in Canton, Massachusetts, and make stops in Cambridge, Boston, and West Roxbury. He will watch returns from Boston.

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