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Wake Up To Politics - March 5, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, March 5, 2020. 5 days until the next Democratic primaries. 243 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Bloomberg ends presidential bid, backs Biden

Exactly one year ago, Michael Bloomberg announced that he would not join the 2020 presidential race — putting to rest yet another round of White House speculation for the former New York City mayor.

But then, 102 days ago, Bloomberg changed his mind. Disappointed with the floundering campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, and anxious over the rise of the seemingly unstoppable Sen. Bernie Sanders, the billionaire jumped in the race in November. He built an unrivaled electoral machine, snapping up thousands of well-paid staff members and dumping nearly $500 million into his campaign. Then, two widely-panned debate performances later, it all fell apart.

Bloomberg's short-lived presidential experiment ended in spectacular fashion on Wednesday, just one day after his debut on nationwide primary ballots yielded a single win: the caucuses in American Samoa. According to the Washington Post, in most Super Tuesday states, the ex-mayor spent more than $100 per vote he received.

"After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible – and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists," Bloomberg said in a statement on Wednesday. "But I remain clear-eyed about my overriding objective: victory in November. Not for me, but for our country. And so while I will not be the nominee, I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life."

In the end, Bloomberg threw his support behind the very candidate whose initial shortcomings led him to enter the presidential race: Joe Biden. Once counted out by Bloomberg and others, Biden is now riding high after notching ten victories on Tuesday and endorsements from numerous former rivals.

Biden has continued to rack up endorsements (30 from governors or members of Congress since Sunday) and donations ($7.1 million on Tuesday and Wednesday, more than Sanders) as he steamrolls towards the Democratic nomination. But one major roadblock remains: Bernie Sanders.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Sanders acknowledged that he was "disappointed" with the Super Tuesday results but said his campaign against Biden would carry on. The two septuagenarians are locked closely together in the latest delegate count, with the ex-vice president boasting a slight edge over the Vermont senator.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is facing constant questions about how much longer her campaign can last. "Top surrogates and allies of [the Warren and Sanders campaigns] are discussing ways for their two camps to unite and push a common liberal agenda, with the expectation that Warren is likely to leave the presidential campaign soon," the Washington Post reported.

Warren's campaign manager, Roger Lau, acknowledged in an email to staff members on Wednesday that the candidate was contemplating her path forward in the race. "This decision is in her hands, and it’s important that she has the time and space to consider what comes next," Lau wrote.

More 2020 news:

--- "The Secret Service is working through plans to provide protection to presidential candidates after protesters stormed the stage of former Vice President Joe Biden's victory rally in Los Angeles late Tuesday in a harrowing scene." (CNN)

--- "Just hours after Joe Biden surged to the top of the Democratic presidential pack, Senate Republicans announced a new phase of their investigation targeting the former vice president and his son Hunter." (Politico)

--- An interesting thought experiment via FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver: "It's quite possible that if NPR/Marist doesn't release a national poll on the last day of eligibility, qualifying Bloomberg for the Nevada debate, the Democratic nomination turns out entirely differently."

The Rundown

Roberts vs. Schumer: "Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday for public remarks that seemed to threaten unspecified retaliation against Trump-appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh if they vote to rein in abortion rights."

"'Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous,' Roberts said in a written statement distributed to reporters. 'All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.'"

"The chief justice’s brush-back was triggered by pointed comments Schumer made earlier Wednesday as the Supreme Court was hearing arguments on its first abortion-rights case of the Trump era: a challenge to a Louisiana law that limits abortion access by requiring that providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital."

"'I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,' Schumer said at a pro-abortion-rights rally outside the court, according to video clips posted online. 'You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.'" (Politico)

Race to 51: "Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana is poised to reverse himself and run for the Senate, according to three Democratic officials, a decision that would hand the party a coveted recruit who could help reclaim a majority in the chamber."

"After months of insisting he would not challenge Senator Steve Daines, Mr. Bullock, who ran for president last year, has told Democrats in the last week he is now inclined to run in what would immediately become one of the marquee Senate races of 2020. Mr. Bullock has only a few days to finalize his decision: The filing deadline to run in Montana is Monday." (New York Times)

Coronavirus updates: Hours after California announced its first death related to the novel coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

--- The U.S. death toll from the virus has now reached 11. There have been 150 confirmed cases across the country.

--- The House passed an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the outbreak on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to pass the bill today.

--- Quote of the day: "I haven't touched my face in weeks! I miss it." — President Trump at a meeting of airline CEOs on Wednesday


President Donald Trump will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Oval Office and participate in a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Minnesota and Washington. He will meet with Mike Roman, the chairman and CEO of 3M (the company from which the Trump administration plans to order millions of masks to combat coronavirus) in Minnesota. Then, in Washington (the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.), Pence will meet with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, tour the State Emergency Operations Center, and participate in a press briefing with Inslee. While on Air Force Two flying between the two states, the vice president will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force conference call.

The Senate will continue consideration of S.2657, the American Energy Innovation Act, and vote on passage of H.R.6074, the bipartisan $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The House will vote on H.R. 1140, the Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2020.

The Supreme Court does not have any oral arguments or conferences scheduled.

Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren do not have any campaign events scheduled.

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