Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to mock Michael Bloomberg after he dropped out of the Democratic 2020 race and to sow division among progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren following the party’s Super Tuesday primaries, accusing the latter of splitting the vote and damaging her friend and rival’s chances in key regions.
Former US vice president Joe Biden was the big winner as 14 states went to the polls yesterday, completing the comeback he began at last weekend’s South Carolina primary by claiming at least nine key states including Texas, with Maine also projected to be confirmed in his favour.
Sanders did take home the top prize, the delegate-rich state of California, but otherwise secured only three others, an outcome that saw the moderate wing of the party come together emphatically to back Biden.
In the fallout of those contests, Mr Bloomberg held a rally in New York City where he announced he was endorsing Mr Biden.
Mr Sanders, meanwhile, opened fresh lines of attack on Mr Biden as the two gear up for a two-man race going forward.
And, Ms Warren's team suggested she is considering her path forward — with many believing that means she plans on dropping out of the race imminently.
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Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of Super Tuesday on what promises to be a make-or-break day for several of the Democratic candidates vying for the chance to challenge Donald Trump at the polls in November.
Joe Biden receives slew of endorsements from anti-Bernie moderates
Super Tuesday is finally upon us, with voting taking place in 14 states across America on who should be the Democratic contender to take on Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
The Democratic field has finally thinned out, with Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer dropping out this week, leaving front-runners Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to duke it out and Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg fighting for survival.
Biden received a slew of last minute endorsements on Monday from Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke and former Senate majority leader Harry Reed as the party’s moderate wing comes together to try to block a Sanders landslide in key states like California and Texas.
Touchingly, Biden compared Buttigieg - the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who emerged from obscurity to impress on the national stage and claim a narrow win in the Iowa primary - to his late son Beau, the former Delaware attorney general who passed away from brain cancer in 2015.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but [he] reminds me of my son, Beau. I know that may not mean much to most people, but to me it’s the highest compliment I can give any man or woman,” Biden said ahead of a rally in Dallas, Texas, where his former rivals took to the stage to stump for him.
“Like Beau, he has a backbone like a ramrod. I really mean this. I think about it.”
Here's Andrew Buncombe's report.
Trump jeers at Biden from sidelines and accuses Dems of 'quid pro quo'
The president gave a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday night, attempting to steal the opposition's thunder and accusing Buttigieg and Klobuchar of striking a secret deal with Biden and conspiring against Bernie.
"They made a deal... Quid pro quo," Trump - ever the brazen opportunist - said to loud cheers. "They made a deal. Impeach them."
Afterwards he took to Twitter to further his attack on Biden:
Here's John T Bennett's report.
Wait, what exactly is Super Tuesday?
If you're new to all of this, here's Andrew Naughtie's introduction to the key date in the primary calender.
The 14 states voting today are: California (415 delegates up for grabs), Texas (228), North Carolina (110), Virginia (99), Massachusetts (75), Minnesota (75), Colorado (67), Tennessee (64), Alabama (52), Oklahoma (37), Arkansas (31), Utah (29), Maine (24) and Vermont (16).
What time can we expect the results?
Here's Clark Mindock with all the key timings to look out for.
Republicans resurrect Ukraine conspiracy in bid to discredit Biden surge
The cynicism of the timing of this cannot be understated.
The GOP chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has decided that now is the ideal time to start investigating the widely discredited conspiracy theory surrounding Joe Biden's approach to Ukraine as vice president in 2016, when he asked the country to remove corrupt prosecutor general Viktor Shokin at a time when his son Hunter was serving on the board of local gas company Burisma, which had itself been the subject of a corruption investigation.
While no one fair-minded seriously believes Joe Biden did anything wrong here, the conpsiracy is a favourite of Trumpworld and the right-wing media ecosystem in which the president and his apologists operate.
Here's Harry Cockburn with more on this.
California county offers 'drive-by voting' for voters worried about coronavirus
As concerns around the spread of the global epidemic reaches fever pitch - and the response of the Trump administration continues to cause disquiet - at least one California region hit by the spread of the virus, Solano County, has told its voters they can drop off their ballot papers without getting out of their cars.
All poll workers in the county - which saw a resident test positive without any link to foreign travel - are being given disinfectant wipes to use on voting machines.
Clark Mindock has more.
Texas 'shutting hundreds of poling stations'
Officials in the Lone Star State, which has the second largest number of electoral college votes, have been closing polling stations in a move that will make it harder for people of colour to vote, according to a new report.
For more than four decades Texas has been solid-red Republican. The last time a Democrat held a statewide office was in the 1990s and the last Democratic president to win there was Jimmy Carter. But in recent years, parts of the state, including the suburbs of cities such as Houston, have become more purple. In 2018, Democrats won a number of House seats and Democrats believe they could perform well there in 2020.
Bernie Sanders, one of the Democratic front-runners, recently claimed he would not only win the state’s primary, but that he would defeat Donald Trump in Texas in November.
Yet a report in The Guardian has revealed that Texas last year closed more polling stations than any other state, “making it more difficult for people to vote and arguably benefiting Republicans”.
Andrew Buncombe has more on this.
Candidates trade barbs ahead of Super Tuesday
The contenders are continuing to attack each other (as you might have expected) ahead of today's big vote.
Bernie Sanders says Joe Biden will leave America in the pocket of billionnaire fat cats:
Elizabeth Warren says Biden is a "Washington insider" and that "no matter no matter how many Washington insiders tell you to support him, nominating their fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment.”
Biden himself has meanwhile gone after Michael Bloomberg, saying he is not a Democrat in the first place:
Which candidates are hurt and helped by Mayor Pete dropping out?
Here's Clark Mindock to answer perhaps the day's biggest question: where are disappointed Buttigieg voters going to turn to?
Will they simple follow their man's prescriptoin and back Diamond Joe or will a more complicated picture emerge?
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