SELMA, Ala. (Reuters) – Joe Biden, fresh off his first victory in the race for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination, took aim at front-runner Bernie Sanders on Sunday ahead of the Super Tuesday contests that could reshape the campaign to pick the party’s 2020 nominee.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden takes photos with supporters at his South Carolina primary night rally in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
Biden and four other Democratic contenders are set to help mark the anniversary of a landmark civil rights march in Alabama on Sunday, the day after strong support among African-American voters powered him to a resounding victory in South Carolina’s nominating contest.
Alabama is one of 14 states holding contests on Tuesday in the race to pick a challenger to face Republican President Donald Trump on Nov. 3.
Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar will travel to Selma to commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights marchers were stopped and beaten by state troopers and local police while crossing a bridge.
Biden’s South Carolina win resurrected his struggling campaign in the state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination. The victory put the former vice president in position to claim he is a viable moderate alternative to self-described democratic socialist Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont.
Sanders’ surging campaign and calls for a political revolution have rattled a Democratic Party establishment worried that he is too far to the left to beat Trump. His strong performances in the first three contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada catapulted him to front-runner status.
Biden said he believed Sanders, if he wins the nomination, would lead the Democratic Party to a big loss against Trump.
“I think Bernie Sanders’ position on a number of the issues, even in the Democratic Party, are going to be – are very controversial,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Americans, Biden said, are “not looking for a revolution, they’re looking for results.”
Biden won overwhelmingly in South Carolina, drawing 48% of the votes cast compared to 20 percent for Sanders. After a third-place finish in South Carolina, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer pulled out of the race.
In South Carolina, Edison Research exit polls showed Biden with 61% of African-American support to Sanders’ 17%.
In a round of Sunday television shows, Biden said he is confident his campaign can build a winning coalition across the country despite lagging Sanders in fundraising and organization.
“Super Tuesday’s not the end, it’s only the beginning,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Sanders planned to campaign on Sunday in heavily Democratic California, the biggest prize on Super Tuesday.
Biden reported raising $5 million in the past 24 hours and his campaign on Sunday added to a growing number of endorsements from establishment Democrats, including U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chairwoman.
Biden got another boost on Sunday with the endorsement of Selma’s mayor, Darrio Melton.
Sanders leads in the overall national delegate count with 56 and Biden is second with 51, with another seven South Carolina delegates yet to be allocated. A candidate will need at least 1,991 delegates to win the nomination outright at the party’s convention in July.
SANDERS BIG BUCKS
The Sanders campaign quickly tried to get back the momentum after South Carolina, announcing it had raised $46.5 million from more than 2.2 million donations in the month of February, a huge sum that dwarfed what any other Democratic candidate had raised last year in any three-month period.
In contrast, Biden told CNN on Sunday he raised about $18 million in February.
The biggest fundraising quarter last year was Sanders’ $34.5 million in the last three months of the year.
The Sanders campaign also announced a new wave of television advertisements in nine states that will hold primary contests on March 10 and March 17, after Super Tuesday.
In the wake of his decisive victory, Biden was endorsed by Terry McAuliffe, a former governor of Virginia and former DNC chairman, and U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, an influential African-American lawmaker from Virginia.
Biden must hope a flurry of media attention and his name recognition will help him in Super Tuesday states, where Sanders’ prolific fundraising has helped him build bigger organizations and broadcast far more advertisements. Sanders leads opinion polls in delegate-rich California, where 3 million early votes have already been cast.
Biden and the other Democratic contenders also will face competition for the first time on Super Tuesday from Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who has blanketed the country with half a billion dollars in advertising. Bloomberg skipped the first four state primaries.
At least five states – Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia – have big blocs of African-American voters that could help Biden.
Writing by Doina Chiacu and John Whitesides; Editing by Will Dunham