Biden Rides Wave Of Endorsements From Former Rivals Into Super Tuesday
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
It's Super Tuesday, and no state offers Democrats a bigger delegate prize than California. NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is in California in Los Angeles. She's been traveling with the campaign of Joe Biden and joins us now.
ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.
SHAPIRO: A lot's happened with the Biden campaign in the last four days - that big win in South Carolina, now endorsements from former rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. What's the mood among his campaign staff you're talking to?
KHALID: Well, it's really such a change. I mean, parts of Iowa and New Hampshire felt pretty somber. The events just didn't have the type of energy that I've begun to see in the last few days. It has really changed dramatically so quickly. By the way, Ari, I should mention I'm on a bus.
SHAPIRO: Yeah, I can hear that rumbling in the background.
KHALID: That's the background noise you probably hear (laughter). I was in Dallas last night, where Biden got the endorsement of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke. And, you know, when you listen to the former vice president, he kind of seems to speak with a renewed vigor. Here's a snippet.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOE BIDEN: The Democrats want to name a nominee who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it, take on the NRA and the gun manufacturers, protect our children, will stand up for the middle class, not raise their taxes and make promises that can't be kept. Then join us.
KHALID: And, you know, within that answer, Ari, I think there were obviously - there was, obviously, a subtext of Bernie Sanders. You know, he is somebody who wants to replace Obamacare with "Medicare for All" and has these bold promises that Joe Biden is sort of skeptical of; whether or not he can actually - whether or not any politician could actually implement them. I think what's most notable in terms of the new energy around Biden is that we have very quickly seen the establishment - we have seen other moderate candidates in this field coalesce around Joe Biden as the single alternative to Bernie Sanders ahead of Super Tuesday. And that has happened with remarkable speed.
SHAPIRO: And what are you hearing from voters that you're talking to?
KHALID: Well, the rallies are certainly busy. And when I talk to voters - I will say earlier on in Iowa and New Hampshire, I heard a lot about electability. I continue to hear about electability, but it seems like people are more convinced in their choices for other reasons. Yesterday, at a rally in Houston, I met Pablo Fernandez. He's a Biden supporter who told me he likes the former vice president's message of unity. He feels like a lot of politics these days is polarizing, and he wants somebody who's going to be a unifier.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PABLO FERNANDEZ: People call the tea partiers the deplorables, but I really feel that both sides, both extremes are equally deplorable because they're hate-filled. We don't need hate. We need unison.
KHALID: And so, again, Ari, that's kind of an implicit rebuke there of the Sanders wing of the party and some of Bernie Sanders' online supporters, whom, you know, many folks within the Democratic Party feel have really been causing, you know, divisiveness within the party itself.
SHAPIRO: This surge of support for Biden has really just come in the last few days, and the Sanders campaign has been well-resourced and energized for a while. Some key states voting today, including California, appear strong for Sanders. So what are Biden's expectations tonight?
KHALID: Yeah, you know, you mentioned California, and I should say that Bernie Sanders seems to have led both in Nevada, as well as some of the polling we've seen even yesterday that looks at Latino voters. And a sizable chunk of the electorate in both California and Texas are Latino voters.
Biden hopes for some wins in Southern states, states that specifically have a large, sizable population of black voters. We saw in South Carolina, he seems to have a strength there. His intent is, obviously, to collect delegates in as many states as he can, and he will need to reach a 15% threshold in order to collect any delegates. Prior to some of these other candidates getting out of the race, there were some questions about whether he could reach that delegate threshold in a state like California. Things are certainly looking much better for him in terms of reaching that 15% viability in a lot more places.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Asma Khalid in Los Angeles, where she's been traveling with the Biden campaign. And we're going to be hearing from reporters traveling with the other campaigns in other parts of the show.
Thank you, Asma.
KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.