Bloomberg drops out of presidential race, endorses Biden

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg suspended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, endorsing Joe Biden after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into his own failed White House bid.

Speaking to supporters Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan, Bloomberg said he was “clear-eyed about our overriding objective, and that is victory in November.”

He said he bowed out to avoid further fracturing the Democratic Party and helping Trump.

“I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump, and today I am leaving the race for the same reason: To defeat Donald Trump, because staying in would make it more difficult,” Bloomberg told the crowd at the Sheraton hotel.

Bloomberg’s exit comes hours after a disastrous showing in the Super Tuesday primaries, which netted the former mayor only a single first-place victory in the territory of American Samoa.

After failing to win any states, he said he realized the numbers would never add up for him.

“The delegate math had become virtually impossible, and a viable path to the nomination just no longer existed,” he said. “I will not be our party’s nominee, but I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life and I hope you won’t walk away either.”

The former mayor urged his supporters to get on board with Biden’s campaign, saying taking down Trump would require “uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it, and after yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

Still, Bloomberg took a moment to speculate about what might have been. “There is no doubt in my mind we would have beaten Donald Trump in November,” he said. “And you know who else knows that? Donald Trump. He’s scared stiff of us, and for good reason, because every time he hit us, we hit back twice as hard.”

Despite his massive spending, he said he always recognized his campaign was a longshot.

“I knew what this race would be all about, and I knew we didn’t have much of a chance, but we did it anyways,” he said.

Bloomberg made an extremely late entrance into the race last November when it appeared as though Biden’s campaign was faltering. His late entrance into the race kept him from appearing on the ballot in the retail politics-heavy first four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The former mayor dumped more than half a billion dollars into his campaign, investing in a vast ground game, blanketing the airwaves with ubiquitous ads and campaigning in Super Tuesday states while his rivals were focused on Iowa and New Hampshire. And it appeared for a time that his spending was paying off as Bloomberg quickly shot up in the polls. But his bid began to come undone after an abysmal performance in the first primary debate he participated in, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren savaged Bloomberg over his treatment of women, his wealth, and his defenses of past policies like stop and frisk.

Coupled with Biden’s resurgence after a commanding victory in South Carolina last weekend, Bloomberg’s surge to top-tier status in the polls appeared to stall out, culminating in his disappointing showing Tuesday night. Bloomberg spoke with Biden on Wednesday, per a person familiar with their conversation, who declined to share further details.

The mayor had told reporters less than 24 hours earlier that his path to the nomination rode mostly on the hope of a contested convention, but bristled when asked whether he would drop out in order to consolidate the moderate vote in a bid to defeat Bernie Sanders.

Bloomberg’s endorsement of Biden comes after two of the former vice president’s chief rivals in the moderate lane — Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — ended their bids and backed the former vice president in a show of centrist unity.

Bloomberg has long said that even if he did not become the Democratic nominee, he would continue spending his vast fortune in favor of that candidate in order to defeat Trump in November, a pledge he reiterated upon dropping out.

He appeared to choke up as he thanked staffers and wrapped up his speech, saying, “I’m sorry we didn’t win, but it’s still the best day of my life, and tomorrow will be even better.” He recalled as a child memorizing the Revolutionary War poem Paul Revere’s Ride, which tells of lanterns hung at Boston’s Old North Church.

“We will not allow any president to dim that light,” he said.

Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.

By [Politico]

Gabbard calls on Biden, Sanders to help put her on debate stage

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is calling on former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to urge the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to allow her onstage for the next primary debate after newly released qualifications for the event barred her from participating.

“@JoeBiden @BernieSanders I’m sure you would agree that our Democratic nominee should be a person who will stand up for what is right. So I ask that you have the courage to do that now in the face of the DNC’s effort to keep me from participating in the debates. #LetTulsiDebate,” Gabbard tweeted late Friday night.

The direct call to Biden and Sanders, the two heavyweights remaining in the 2020 primary race, comes after the DNC said candidates must have garnered at least 20 percent of the delegates awarded thus far to make the debate stage in Phoenix on March 15. 

Gabbard, who has refused to drop her long-shot White House bid despite dismal results in the first several nominating states, has garnered just two of the 1,385 delegates awarded thus far, falling way below the threshold. She has not qualified for a debate since November under previous standards from the DNC. 

Six states will hold primaries and caucuses Tuesday, though it is virtually impossible that Gabbard will net enough delegates from the contests to hit the 20 percent mark.

The Hawaii lawmaker has repeatedly railed against the DNC, accusing it at times of seeking to kneecap her campaign. She specifically cited a rule change last month regarding the polling qualifications for debates that allowed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to appear onstage twice before he dropped out of the race. 

“To keep me off the stage, the DNC again arbitrarily changed the debate qualifications,” she tweeted. “Previously they changed the qualifications in the OPPOSITE direction so Bloomberg could debate. I ask that you stand w/ me against the DNC’s transparent effort to exclude me from the debates.” 

The Hawaii Democrat, an Iraq War veteran, has centered her long-shot White House bid around reducing America’s military entanglements abroad, but she has faced criticism over a 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad and her past positions opposed to LGBTQ rights.

By Tal Axelrod [The Hill]

Elizabeth Warren drops out of 2020 Democratic presidential race

Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Massachusetts senator whose sweeping economic plans shaped the Democratic policy debate, dropped out of the presidential race on Thursday after struggling to regain the momentum that briefly made her a frontrunner for the nomination.

In what began as the most diverse field in history, Warren was the last major female Democratic presidential candidate in the race. Her departure sets up what is effectively a contest between two white men in their 70s – Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Warren informed staff of her decision during a meeting on Thursday morning.

“I want to start with the news,” she told campaign staff on a conference call. “I want all of you to hear it first and I want you to hear it straight from me: today, I’m suspending our campaign for president.”

She continued: “It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters – and the changes will have ripples for years to come.”

At a press conference from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the senator offered a frank assessment of her candidacy, in which she acknowledged that she had been effectively squeezed out of the race by Sanders on the left and Biden on the center.

“I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes: a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is incumbent for and a moderate lane that Joe Biden was the incumbent for and there’s no room for anyone else in this,” she told reporters. “I thought that wasn’t right but evidently I was wrong.”

Her departure comes after a series of lackluster finishes in the early voting contests, including a demoralizing third-place finish in her home state of Massachusetts on Super Tuesday.

Warren, 70, recently cast herself as the “unity candidate” best positioned to bring together the Democratic party, even as she sharpened her criticisms of Sanders, Biden and multi-billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who she essentially drove out of the race with a devastating attack during a debate in Nevada last month. Bloomberg ended his bid on Wednesday.

In her call with staff, Warren said her team was “willing to fight, and, when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor”.

She said: “And I can think of one billionaire who has been denied the chance to buy this election.”

Biden called Warren “the fiercest of fighters for middle class families”, adding that her “work in Washington, in Massachusetts and on the campaign trail has made a real difference in people’s lives”.

Sanders praised his Senate colleague for running an “extraordinary campaign of ideas” and said the progressive movement “would not be nearly as strong as it is today” without her leadership.Advertisement

Both candidates are aggressively pursuing her endorsement but she said she had no plans to immediately back either in the race.

“Let’s take a deep breath and talk about this for a little bit longer,” she told reporters on Thursday.

Warren’s campaign was widely recognized for its organization but early investment in states like Iowa failed to translate into wins. She came third there, a comparatively respectable finish that was overshadowed by the disastrous debacle over the reporting of the results.

That was followed by a fourth-place finish in New Hampshire. She slipped to fifth in South Carolina. And on Super Tuesday this week, where her team predicted she would have a “strong performance”, she did not win a single state: not even Massachusetts, where liberals split between her and Sanders while moderates broke heavily for Biden, who hardly campaigned there.

It was blow from which she unable to recover, despite a fundraising surge last month and field organizations in more than 30 states.

Trump immediately seized on her exit, referring to her by the racial slur “Pocahontas”. He said she was “going nowhere except into Mini Mike’s head”.Advertisement

Trump gloated: “She cost Crazy Bernie, at least, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas. Probably cost him the nomination!”

In recent weeks, Warren has come under pressure from progressives backing Sanders to drop out and endorse him, in the way moderate contenders Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar aligned behind Biden after losing South Carolina. But Warren remained defiant, sharpening her attacks on Sanders, who she said was too polarizing, and Biden, whose vision she criticized as “small”.

Many of her most ardent supporters saw a double standard in the coverage of Warren: despite finishing ahead of Biden and Klobuchar in Iowa, she seemed to fade from the political conversation.

The scale of her loss, and comparisons to Clinton, confirmed for some that the nation was not ready to elect a woman president.

Asked on Thursday what role gender and sexism played in her campaign, Warren that was the “trap question” for every woman running for public office.

“If you say, yeah there was sexism in this race, everyone says, whiner,” she said. “And if you say no there was no sexism about a bazillion women think, what planet do you live on?”

She said one of the “hardest parts” about her decision to leave the raise was “all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years”.

Warren, a former Harvard professor who specialized in bankruptcy law, entered the primary as a “fighter” with a mission to root out corruption in Washington. Her expansive economic proposals – from universal childcare to student loan debt relief to free college – became her trademark. “I have a plan for that,” became her tagline, appearing on T-shirts and coffee mugs.

Her plans were underwritten by a wealth tax on the richest Americans. The idea was so popular among her supporters that chants of “two cents” would break out at rallies, a reference to the amount per dollar that Warren promised to tax on wealth over $50m.

She was also known for spending hours after campaign events taking photos with supporters in what became known as her “selfie line”. The tactic was intended to highlight the time the candidate was able to dedicate to voters because she had eschewed high-dollar donor events.

Her rapidly expanding portfolio of policy proposals dominated the early contest of ideas. In polling last summer, Warren rose inexorably, even edging past Biden, then the frontrunner in some surveys.

Warren ran strong among educated women, including those who had supported Clinton in 2016 and were eager to see a woman elevated to the White House.Advertisement

But despite receiving broad support among prominent black leaders and activists who were drawn to Warren’s sharp analysis of the connection between racial and economic inequality, she was never able to make inroads with the party’s most loyal constituency. In South Carolina, where African Americans make up more than 60% of the Democratic electorate, she won support from just 5% of black voters.

Democrats’ desperation to beat Trump resulted in an intense focus on “electability”, a calculation that can include gender and racial biases. Supporters believe voter obsession with electability hampered Warren’s candidacy as it had for other women and candidates of color who ran for the nomination, like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Julian Castro.

Asked during a debate to respond to Barack Obama’s assertion that more women should lead, the moderator noted that Warren would be the “oldest president ever inaugurated”.

She shot back: “I’d also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.”

By Lauren Gambino [The Gaurdian]

Klobuchar drops out of 2020 campaign, endorses Biden

Amy Klobuchar ended her presidential campaign and endorsed Joe Biden on Monday, making her the third Democrat in three days to exit the race after Biden’s big win in the South Carolina primary.

Klobuchar dropped out just before her home state, Minnesota, votes on Super Tuesday — paving the way for Biden to capture a greater share of moderate Democratic votes against Bernie Sanders, who gained momentum and took over the delegate lead in the primary after wins in New Hampshire and Nevada last month. Sanders’ surge and Biden’s resurgence also pushed Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer from the presidential race over the weekend, amid pressure from top Democrats to consolidate behind a Sanders alternative.

Klobuchar traveled to Dallas on Monday, where she joined the former vice president. At Biden’s rally, Klobuchar announced that she’s suspended her campaign and threw her support to him. She informed Biden’s campaign Monday morning that she was quitting the race and endorsing him, according to a person on a call with campaign staffers in the afternoon.

Klobuchar told staffers about her plans to exit the race and endorse Biden on the call. She thanked them, noting that the campaign outperformed expectations in the 2020 race, according to a person on the call. ““Thanks for being part of this when everyone was making fun of us when we had no chance,” Klobuchar said, according to the staffer.

Klobuchar told her aides that she wanted to get behind Biden quickly — “it all happened in a matter of a couple hours,” she said — over fear that Sanders would lose badly to President Donald Trump if he won the Democratic nomination — something she raised in debates earlier this year.

“Bernie and I work together all the time,” Klobuchar said in the New Hampshire debate on Feb. 7. “But I think we are not going to be able to out-divide the divider-in-chief. And I think we need someone to head up this ticket that actually brings people with her instead of shutting them out.”

Throughout the primary, Klobuchar painted herself as a pragmatic, electable Midwesterner who had already tasted success in a purple battleground state. But she quickly found a crowded field for that slot, and she was often eclipsed in fundraising and poll numbers by the likes of Biden and Buttigieg, two other moderate Democrats pitching broad-tent appeal to win back key states Democrats lost in 2016.

But Klobuchar slowly added support throughout 2019, and she created a standout moment in New Hampshire. After an eye-catching debate performance in which she went after Buttigieg for his lack of experience, Klobuchar delivered a strong — and unexpected — third place finish in the New Hampshire primary, trailing just Sanders and Buttigieg and shocking the rest of the presidential field. Those results drove a round of strong fundraising and media attention that helped boost her profile, even drawing out a super PAC to spend money on her behalf.

But when her campaign received a much-needed cash infusion — raising $12 million just over a week after she won New Hampshire — it came too late to change her trajectory in the following contests. Klobuchar was ultimately unable to capitalize on any post-New Hampshire bump in Nevada and South Carolina, a pair of diverse states where Klobuchar’s weakness with voters of color was exposed. Klobuchar, who focused nearly all of her resources and time on Iowa and New Hampshire, had built no infrastructure there.

Exit polls found that Klobuchar earned just 1 percent of black Democrats’ support in South Carolina, and they were the majority of the electorate on Saturday.

That weakness became increasingly apparent as Klobuchar’s campaign gained traction in whiter states. Recent reports scrutinized her record as a county prosecutor in Minnesota. Klobuchar confronted tough questions about her tenure on “The View” earlier this month, when the hosts pressed Klobuchar on why she “failed to proscute a single killing by the police” during her eight-year tenure.

On Sunday night, protesters from Black Lives Matter forced her campaign to cancel a rally in St. Louis Park, Minn., after they took over the stage.

Early on in her presidential run, Klobuchar looked to captialize on the next-door-neighbor status that helped previous presidential campaigns. She visited all 99 of Iowa’s counties, and spent much of her resources on building a toehold in the state.

Marc Caputo contributed to this article.

By Elena Schneider [Politico]

Buttigieg drops out of presidential race

Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Sunday night after a roller-coaster campaign that saw him rise from total obscurity to Iowa victor — only to stall out as the Democratic primary race turned to more diverse states.

The 38-year-old former South Bend, Ind., mayor’s exit comes two days before Super Tuesday, opening up a wider path for former Vice President Joe Biden to become the moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg did not mention Sanders by name in the speech announcing he was suspending his campaign. But he made unmistakable references to the Vermont senator, using similar lines to language Buttigieg deployed directly against Sanders in a recent debate, when he argued that Sanders’ approach was not the right way to defeat President Donald Trump in November.

“We need leadership to heal a divided nation, not drive us further apart,” Buttigieg said. “We need a broad-based agenda that can truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology.”

Earlier, Buttigieg had said, “We must recognize that at this point in the race the best way to keep faith with” the campaign’s goals was to “step aside and help bring our country and party together.”

Buttigieg disrupted the 2020 Democratic presidential field, outlasting and outraising governors and senators with longer political resumes. During the primary, Buttigieg cast himself as a Washington outsider who could win Midwestern states and broaden the Democratic tent to include moderates, independents and “future former Republicans,” a phrase he deployed frequently on the campaign trail. And as a millennial, Buttigieg frequently spoke about bringing “generational change” to the White House, especially when he was drawn into conflict with older rivals on in the Democratic primary debates.

Buttigieg was the first out gay candidate to play a major role in a presidential campaign, including notching a narrow win in the Iowa caucuses (where the results are still being disputed by Sanders’ campaign). Buttigieg then finished a close second behind Sanders in New Hampshire.

But he was never able to expand his appeal to include significant numbers of voters of color, and Buttigieg finished a disappointing fourth place finish in the South Carolina primary on Saturday night despite investing significant time and money in the state. Buttigieg won 3 percent of black voters there, according to exit polls, in a state where the Democratic electorate is majority-black. The week prior, Buttigieg finished a distant third place in the Nevada caucuses, where Latino voters turned out in strong numbers.

Buttigieg’s pre-Super Tuesday withdrawal from the race comes amid rising concern among moderate Democrats, who Buttigieg courted in his campaign, that Sanders could win the party’s presidential nomination. While Biden could benefit from Buttigieg’s dropout as moderate Democrats try to rally behind one candidate, Warren’s campaign has long predicted that a Buttigieg exit would be to her benefit, given their overlapping appeal with white, college-educated voters. Buttigieg’s rise in Iowa and New Hampshire, in part, came at her expense. But Warren has indicated she has no plans to drop out any time soon and plans to go all the way to the convention.

Buttigieg has been a frequent critic of Sanders and Warren in debates, lamenting their support for Medicare for All and Sanders’ identification with socialism. In the Nevada debate two weeks later, he called Sanders one of the two “most polarizing figures” in the Democratic primary, along with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“Most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power,” Buttigieg said.

Instead, Buttigieg pitched viewers on nominating a Midwestern standard bearer who could win back voters in the key states Trump painted red in 2016, a key piece of the appeal that saw him start the campaign as a little-known mayor of a city of about 100,000 people and end it with 26 pledged delegates to his name.

Buttigieg entered the presidential race quietly in January 2019, but by the spring he had leapt into the middle of the Democratic primary conversation after his answers at televised town hall events went viral, elevating him just as Democratic voters were starting to tune into the primary process.

Buttigieg’s campaign also became a touchstone for LGBTQ Americans. Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, became a social media star and frequent presence on the campaign trail, and the two were featured together on the cover of Time magazine in 2019. Just last week, Buttigieg took a question at a campaign event from a young boy asking for help coming out. And after taking a lead in Iowa, Buttigieg reflected on the meaning of that moment for other gay people watching his campaign.

Buttigieg’s campaign spent much of the cash it raised building up to that finish in Iowa and his second-place showing in New Hampshire. But he didn’t receive the traditional post-Iowa fundraising bounce and media spotlight, with the state’s troubled caucus process leading to long delays reporting the results and disputes when the votes were finally counted.

Ultimately, it was Buttigieg’s longstanding trouble attracting support from voters of color that sapped his campaign of momentum. He was criticized as out of touch with the struggles of African Americans in South Bend while he was mayor there. And campaign missteps — including claiming endorsements for his “Douglass Plan,” his signature policy for black voters, that were disputed by the people his campaign listed — spread in the media as he tried to build new support.

Buttigieg acknowledged in January that it was “mostly white folks showing up” when he campaigned in South Carolina. But he kept trying to break in through the end, holding small roundtables with black leaders in South Carolina through his last week on the campaign trail.

Carla Marinucci and Alex Thompson contributed to this report.

By Elena Schneider [Politico]

Tom Steyer Drops Out Of 2020 Presidential Race

Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund investor and environmental activist who staked his campaign on a strong finish in South Carolina, suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday.

Steyer aggressively courted the black vote in the state, with a focus on racial and economic justice but had a disappointing finish. Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected to win the state.

“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning, that I’d suspend my campaign,” Steyer told supporters on Saturday. “And honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”

Steyer had spent more time in South Carolina than any other candidate and fielded the largest on-the-ground campaign staff.

He caused a stir in this state because of his extensive spending. He spent nearly $24 million ads there and waged an aggressive direct-mail campaign. Some of his spending, including the practice of hiring local lawmakers as paid staff, drew unease that he was buying the black vote.

Though Steyer made an aggressive play for South Carolina voters, he did not earn a single delegate in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada — the first three contests — and polls showed a daunting path ahead in the 14 states that vote on Super Tuesday.

Steyer entered the race in July, despite an earlier announcement that he wouldn’t seek the nomination and would instead focus on efforts to impeach President Trump.

The 62-year-old environmental activist made his fortune as a hedge fund manager and raised awareness of climate change through his NextGen America organization.

He raised his national profile by pushing for Trump’s impeachment and spent $120 million during the 2018 election cycle on digital and TV ads as part of his “Need to Impeach” initiative.

Steyer’s final campaign rally was at Allen University, a historically black college in Columbia, S.C.. He brought the rapper Juvenile, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and DJ Jazzy Jeff to the school’s gymnasium to perform for a largely black, though generationally diverse audience.

When he took the stage, he told his supporters that people from South Carolina are “up for a righteous fight.”

“Win, lose or draw, I fell in love with the people of South Carolina,” Steyer said then. “I’m never leaving … and we’re going to win this fight.”

By Juana Summers [NPR]