In a last-minute bid to unite the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on March 2 threw their support behind former Vice President Joe Biden, giving him an extraordinary boost ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries that promised to test his strength against the liberal front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders. Even by the standards of the tumultuous 2020 campaign, the dual endorsement from Klobuchar and Buttigieg, and their joint appearances with Biden at campaign events in Dallas on March 2, was remarkable. Rarely, if ever, have opponents joined forces so dramatically, as Klobuchar and Buttigieg went from campaigning at full tilt in the South Carolina primary on Saturday to joining on a political rescue mission for a former competitor, Joe Biden, whom they had once regarded as a spent force.
Amy Klobuchar, who sought to appeal to the same moderate voters as Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, and focused her campaign on calling the Democratic Party’s attention to Midwestern states like her native Minnesota, withdrew from the race after intensive conversations with her aides following Biden’s thumping victory in South Carolina. Rather than delivering a traditional concession speech, Klobuchar told associates she wanted to leverage her exit to help Biden and headed directly for the joint rally. Before a roaring crowd in Dallas, she hailed her former rival as a candidate who could “bring our country together” and restore “decency and dignity” to the presidency. Pete Buttigieg, for his part, endorsed Biden at a pre-rally stop, saying that Biden would “restore the soul” of the nation as president. And Biden offered Buttigieg the highest compliment in his personal vocabulary, several times likening the young politician to his own son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
For the three moderates, as well as for Bernie Sanders and other remaining candidates, the crucial question hanging over the fast-moving events was whether any of it would make a difference in Tuesday’s primaries across 15 states and territories, including the critical battlegrounds of California and Texas. Millions of voters are expected to go to the polls, but many states have had early voting underway; more than 2.3 million Democratic and independent ballots have already been processed in California. Bernie Sanders has significant head starts in many of the Super Tuesday states and beyond: His popularity has risen in recent weeks, and so has Democratic voters’ estimation of his electability in a race with President Donald Trump. The Vermont senator has a muscular national grass-roots organization, backed by the most fearsome online fund-raising machine in Democratic politics, one that collected more than $46 million last month, far outdistancing every other candidate in the race.
As news emerged of the shift of centrist support toward Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders projected confidence and defiance, dismissing it as a phenomenon of “establishment politicians” supporting one another. On Twitter, Sanders posted a video criticizing Biden for having supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, linking him to unpopular Republicans like former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Additionally, Sanders assailed Biden’s record on the Iraq war and Social Security. “It is no surprise they do not want me to become president,‘’ Sanders said, referring to his moderate opponents.