U.S. media tycoon Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday he was quitting the Democratic primary race and instead endorsing frontrunner Joe Biden for the White House after being snubbed by voters on Super Tuesday.
“Three months ago, I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” he said in a statement.
The billionaire former mayor of New York spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his presidential run, but failed to win any of the 14 states on offer on Super Tuesday — the most important day in the Democratic primary season.
A resurgent Biden seized the momentum in the race with a string of Super Tuesday victories, including key prize Texas, against rival Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, a 78-year-old leftist who is running a populist, social democratic campaign aimed at making politics more respondent to the working class, had been the clear leader and was looking for a knock-out blow on the most consequential voting day on the primary calendar.
Instead, the results signaled a remarkable comeback for Biden, a former vice president under Barack Obama who was projected to win at least nine, and possibly 10, of the nomination contests held across 14 states.
Just one week ago the 77-year-old senior statesman saw his campaign teeter on the edge of collapse. Now he is vying once again for frontrunner status.
BREAKING: Michael Bloomberg is ending his campaign. The former New York mayor spent $560 million on ads in Super Tuesday states, but won only the territory of American Samoa. He is endorsing Joe Biden. pic.twitter.com/0og0UySIQo
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 4, 2020
“It’s a good night and it seems to be getting even better! They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing,” Biden told cheering fans in Los Angeles.
Biden was practically counted out after a stumbling early campaign, but first began to rebound with a landslide win Saturday in South Carolina.
That was followed by coordinated decisions by two other moderate candidates — Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — to withdraw and endorse their former rival, as the party’s establishment dramatically coalesced around Biden days before Super Tuesday.
Exit polls showed that about a third of voters had made their decision in the last few days, with late-deciders overwhelmingly supporting Biden.
Sanders, self-described democratic socialist, was projected to win his home state of Vermont, Colorado, Utah, and California, the biggest delegate-rich state of all, with a nine-point lead as the count continued on Wednesday morning.
The centrist Biden was projected to win in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Massachusetts and even Minnesota — a state where Sanders had been expected to win handily.
Well after midnight the projection was made for Biden to win Texas, the second largest U.S. state, and on Wednesday morning he had a narrow lead in Maine with three-quarters of the vote counted. Sanders had been polling ahead in both states.
“We expected a surge. We got a tsunami,” tweeted analyst David Axelrod, chief strategist for Obama’s two presidential campaigns. “New race. Completely.”
A defiant Sanders celebrated his own wins earlier in the night by tearing into Trump, calling him “the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”
I'm proud to have fought my entire career against cuts to Social Security. Joe Biden cannot say the same. pic.twitter.com/8YdjMLFZ14
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 4, 2020
But he also attacked Biden for having voted for the invasion of Iraq and painted him as tarnished by billionaire and special interest 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 a crowd in Los Angeles. “Make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing.”
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.
That was bolstered by Biden winning all five other southern states on the ballot Tuesday.
However, Biden has been prone to gaffes throughout the election, raising some questions about his mental acuity. Before Tuesday’s polls, Biden stumbled and said “Super Thursday.” In recent weeks, he’s also said that he’s running for U.S. Senate and repeatedly, falsely claimed to have been arrested in South Africa with Nelson Mandela.
Progressives are also weary of Biden over his past support for social security and medicare cuts, the Iraq war, a credit-card-company-friendly bankruptcy bill, and other conservative stances.
BREAKING NEWS: Moments ago, the @JoeBiden campaign admitted that he publicly lied at least 3 times this past week when he said he was arrested in Apartheid South Africa.
His campaign now admits he was never arrested trying to meet Nelson Mandela.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 26, 2020
Bloomberg and progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren were the other big-name candidates on the ticked Tuesday.
Despite spending record amounts of his own money on advertising, it was an embarrassing debut for billionaire media entrepreneur Bloomberg who failed to win any state — though he did get a consolation victory in American Samoa, a tiny territory in the Pacific.
Trump, who watched the results on television, tweeted his customary insults about the Democrats, deriding Warren for losing her state of Massachusetts.
Biden answered on Twitter, saying: “Come November, we are going to beat you.”
With Bloomberg out of the race, Sanders supporters are ramping up calls for Warren to drop out and endorse him in order to balance the field.
Tuesday’s 14 contests gave the dwindling Democratic field a giant potential haul of delegates.
Many in the party are desperate to stop Sanders’ strong push to win the delegate race. Sanders opponents say they’re afraid Sanders is too far left and is unelectable, but his supporters argue that the major opposition comes from people with a vested interest in keeping the status quo in tact.
Sanders Supporters Convinced
Biden is making his third White House bid, after failed runs in 1988 and 2008. He argues he can bring a return to “decency” following the tumultuous, scandal-plagued Trump era.
Sanders’ fans are convinced only he can take on Trump, who also defied his party’s establishment to claim a surprise 2016 victory against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Head to head polls consistently show Sanders in the lead over Trump, including in some important Midwestern swing states.
Supporter Jamison Hanning, a 45-year-old plastics industry technician, said he was “pretty confident” despite Biden’s pushback.
“It is just people in the establishment being afraid,” Hanning said.