Joe Biden easily won Florida, Illinois and Arizona over Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, further cementing his position of probable 2020 Democratic nominee over the democratic socialist.
Biden used a webcam speech to thank supporters – and reach out to Sanders’ voters telling them ‘I hear you,’ in yet another attempt to unify the Democratic Party as the Vermont senator remains in the presidential race.
‘Sen. Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision – for the need to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans, reduce income inequity that has risen so drastically, to tackling the existential threat of our time – climate change,’ Biden said in remarks livestreamed from his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
‘Sen. Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues,’ the former vice president said. ‘Together they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country.’
Biden then spoke to those supporters directly.
‘So let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Sen. Sanders – I hear you, I know what’s at stake, I know what we have to do,’ the ex-veep said looking into the camera. ‘Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president is to unify this party and then unify the nation.’
Sanders’ chance of winning the nomination was all but snuffed out a week ago when he lost in Michigan. But with a quick win in Florida for Biden this Tuesday night, and then in Illinois, the Vermont senator’s campaign became essentially dead.
Joe Biden livestreamed a speech from his home in Wilmington, Delaware Tuesday night to thank supporters for his wins in Florida and Illinois and to tell Bernie Sanders’ voters that he hears them
Bernie Sanders held his own livestreamed event before the result of Florida was called for Joe Biden. He, again, leaned into being a U.S. senator and asked supporters for suggestions on what legislation could help them get through the coronavirus-caused crisis
Three states went ahead with voting Tuesday – Arizona, Illinois and Florida, while Ohio’s governor postponed the primary until June 2
In Florida, Biden was leading by almost 40 points all night – and the race was called as soon as the final polling stations in the Sunshine State closed.
Despite coronavirus outbreak fears, turnout in Florida among Democratic voters was up, NBC News reported.
That could spell good news for Democrats in November. But the state also gave President Trump enough delegates to be the Repuublican Party’s official nominee, the Trump campaign announced Tuesday night.
In Illinois, the home state of Biden’s former running mate President Obama, Biden was also up more than 20 points.
Super Tuesday III originally had primaries taking place in Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio – but Ohio’s governor forced a last-minute postponement of in-person voting there due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The other three states still held primaries for president and other down-ballot races with election officials making changes to decrease the chances of voters and poll workers contracting the virus.
‘I want to thank all of the public officials, and the poll workers, who worked closely with the public health authorities to assure safe opportunities for voting,’ Biden also said during his remarks. ‘It’s important for us to get through this crisis protecting both the public heatlh and our democratcy,’ he added.
Biden and Sanders have had to dramatically curtail their campaign activity, subbing in technology for the gripping-and-grinning they would be doing on the trail.
It hasn’t always gone smoothly.
‘Am I on camera?’ Biden asked during his campaign’s first attempt at a virtual town hall, which featured several sound snafus, guests that didn’t know they were live and blank screens for seconds at a time.
In Florida, voters stand in line – though at a distance from one another – as they vote in Delray Beach at a polling location that was made available after several precincts were unable to open
Joe Biden’s virtual town hall with Illinois voters on Friday didn’t go as planned – with audio, snafus, blank screens and guests that didn’t know they were being livestreamed
Bernie Sanders’ team has done a better job getting his events livestreamed, including his Monday night concert and rally, which featured him alone on this set talking to voters
This Illinois polling station was relocated from a nursing home to a fomer supermarket, allowing voters to observe proper ‘social distancing’ as they complete their ballots
A polling worker (right) in Chicago wears gloves as a voter cast a vote in the state’s primary election
Voters in gloves and masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus leave a polling place in The Villages, Florida
Voters were still given ‘I Voted’ stickers at polling places Tuesday, but a number of other safety measures were taken in the three states that held primaries as part of Super Tuesday III
WHEN DO THE POLLS CLOSE?
Arizona: 10 p.m. EST
Florida: 8 p.m. EST
*Florida polls will begin closing at 7 p.m. EST
Illinois: 8 p.m. EST
The Sanders campaign has had better luck – he’s the candidate that’s attracted the bulk of young voters, after all – as the Vermont senator has now held several virtual events.
On Tuesday night Sanders spoke before Biden’s win in Florida could be made official.
He addressed a livestream audience on his campaign website and didn’t mention the votes being counted – he instead talked about some of his ideas on how to right the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The main one was to ’empower Medicare to cover all medical bills’ brought on by the coronavirus emergency.
‘This isn’t Medicare-for-all, we can’t pass that right now,’ said Sanders, articulating a major political reality.
He also said he wanted to see student loan payments paused, farmers taken care of and nutrition programs, like food stamps, expanded so families, the elderly and the disabled don’t starve.
‘Finally we must make sure that our response to this health and economic crisis is not another money-making opportunity for corporate America and for Wall Street,’ Sanders said.
Leaning into his longtime role as a U.S. senator, Sanders said he’d be taking his list of proposals to Senate Democratic leadership.
The Senate is currently working on a third piece of legislation that could include an Andrew Yang-like ‘freedom dividend,’ though Senate Republicans and the White House are hashing out the details before Senate Democrats will get a chance.
In a way to make his pitch interactive, Sanders said he wanted feedback from his supporters.
‘We need to know what you’re experiencing right now,’ he said looking into the camera. ‘It’s hard to write proper legislation if we are not familiar with the kind of pain and problems that people all across this country are facing.’
Three previous online events – a ‘fireside chat’ on Saturday, a ‘concert’ and a ‘rally’ on Monday and then a pre-debate program the campaign held before Sanders and Biden faced off at the CNN headquarters Sunday night, attracted 5.3 million views the Sanders campaign said Tuesday.
‘Our digital organizing infrastructure is unmatched, and in this moment of fear and uncertainty, we are proud to be able to speak directly to Americans and bring art, music and community into their homes,’ Sanders’ campign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement.
Sanders’ concert Monday night featured music from Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Neil Young, with a hello from his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, and the Free Nationals. James and the Free Nationals performed in an audience-less venue, while Young beamed in from his home.
Despite being the more tech-savvy campaign, the delegate math makes it nearly impossible to yank away the Democratic nomination from Biden – who saw the moderate wing of the party coalesce around his candidacy in the wake of his 28.5 point win over Sanders in the South Carolina primary.
Biden went on to win 10 of the 14 states that held contests on Super Tuesday.
He also won five of the six states that held primaries one week ago, with Sanders only walking away with South Dakota.
Michigan, which Biden won by 16.5 points, had been the last, best hope for Sanders to change the momentum in the race.
Tulsi Gabbard is also still running for president.
A Biden campaign memo from Tuesday said that when the early vote and the vote by mail were included overall turnout in the Super Tuesday III states was roughly on pace in Arizona and Florida with what it was in 2016, and in Illinois when looking at the 2018 midterm numbers.
‘Even if after tonight’s contests, Biden hasn’t significanly increased that lead, Sanders would need to win upcoming elections by an average of 15-20 points to overtake Biden in delegates,’ the note said. ‘It would take a drastic, historically-incomparable swing for Senator Sanders to win more delegates than Biden today or close the delegate differential.’
Still, Sanders doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to exit the race stage-left.
The primary has been eclipsed by the coronavirus crisis and what President Trump is doing from the White House.