Biden leads Sanders in Democratic White House race as Bloomberg exits

Biden, whose campaign had been on life support after the first three nominating contests, won at least nine of the 14 states at stake on Super Tuesday.

Joe Biden reclaimed frontrunner status in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after notching up stunning Super Tuesday primary victories over Bernie Sanders and receiving the backing of Mike Bloomberg, who dropped out and endorsed the former vice president.

“I can’t thank you enough for your support,” the 77-year-old Biden tweeted after Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, announced on Wednesday that he was ending his unconventional campaign.

“This race is bigger than candidates and bigger than politics,” said Biden, who is making his third White House bid after failed runs in 1988 and 2008.

“It’s about defeating Donald Trump, and with your help, we’re gonna do it.”

Biden, whose campaign had been on life support after the first three nominating contests, won at least nine of the 14 states at stake on Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the election calendar so far.

“They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing,” Biden told cheering supporters at a rally in Los Angeles. “Make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing.”

Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, won his home state of Vermont, Utah and looked to be headed for victory in California, the biggest prize of the night, as vote-counting continued on Wednesday.

But Biden, powered by strong support among African-Americans and women, swept the seven southern states at play including Texas, where Sanders had been expected to attract strong Latino support.

Bloomberg, also 78, said that while he was leaving the race, he remained committed to beating Trump in November.

“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

“After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

Bloomberg skipped the first four nominating contests and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money on advertising to make a splash on Super Tuesday but he walked away with just a handful of delegates from the tiny US territory of American Samoa.

The other remaining major Democratic candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, 70, was reported to be meeting with her advisors after failing to make an impact on Tuesday, even finishing third in her home state of Massachusetts.

Biden notched up victories in Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Massachusetts and even Minnesota — a state where Sanders had been expected to win handily.

With three-quarters of the vote counted, Biden had a narrow lead in Maine, where Sanders had been polling ahead.

“We expected a surge. We got a tsunami,” tweeted analyst David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns. “New race. Completely.”

A defiant Sanders celebrated his own wins by tearing into Trump, calling him “the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”

But he also attacked Biden for having voted for the invasion of Iraq and painted him as tarnished by billionaire contributors.

“We’re taking on the political establishment,” he said. “You cannot beat Trump with the same-old, same-old kind of politics.”

Biden saw the results as proof that his bid to bring American politics back to the center, after four years of Trump’s right-wing populism, is on a roll.

“We are very much alive,” he told the crowd in Los Angeles.

A key takeaway from Biden’s long list of wins was his strong support among African Americans — a vital piece in any Democratic presidential candidate’s coalition.

He seemed to fare less well with the large Hispanic electorate, which in California reportedly went heavily for Sanders. But a victory in Texas, which also has a diverse population, suggests Biden has the capacity to build a broad coalition.

Trump tweeted his customary insults at the Democrats, deriding Warren for losing Massachusetts and Bloomberg for his failed campaign.

“I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost,” Trump said of Bloomberg.

“Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!”

Many in the Democratic Party establishment have been desperate to stop Sanders, claiming he would be destroyed in an election where Trump would brand him a socialist bent on ending the American way of life.

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