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Biden, Sanders Vie For Supporters Of Candidates Who Dropped Out

NOEL KING, HOST:

Today is Super Tuesday. People in 14 states will vote. That makes it the biggest day in the Democratic presidential nominating contest. Last night in Dallas, former Vice President Joe Biden got endorsements from some of his former rivals.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

PETE BUTTIGIEG: I'm delighted to endorse and support Joe Biden for president.

(CHEERING)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: And if you are tired of the extremes, you have a home with me. And I think you know you have a home with Joe Biden.

(CHEERING)

BETO O'ROURKE: (Speaking Spanish) Joe Biden. Let's do it for Joe.

KING: That was Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke speaking. NPR's Susan Davis is in Miami with Michael Bloomberg's campaign. Good morning, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.

KING: So here's Joe Biden at that event in Dallas last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: And my message to everyone, every person who's been knocked down, counted out, left behind - this is your campaign.

(CHEERING)

BIDEN: We need you. We want you. And there's a place in this campaign for you. So join us.

KING: Sue, how important are those endorsements?

DAVIS: Well, it certainly looks like the establishment is doing a show of force behind Joe Biden. Along with those, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also came out yesterday in favor of Biden, essentially making that electability argument, he's the best candidate to beat Trump. We've also seen several lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to coalesce around Biden. I think they're trying to send a message going into these all-important Super Tuesday states that the establishment Democratic Party wants Joe Biden to be their nominee and not Bernie Sanders.

KING: OK. So how does that change things for Bernie Sanders, if it does?

DAVIS: Well, he did speak to these endorsements last night in Amy Klobuchar's home state of Minnesota. This is what he had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: I also know that virtually all of Amy's support and Pete's support understand that we have got to move toward a government which believes in justice, not greed.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: So to all of Amy and Pete's millions of supporters, the door is open. Come on in.

(CHEERING)

DAVIS: In some ways, this makes the case that Bernie Sanders has been making all along. He comes from outside the establishment. And if you want major structural change, he's the only one who can do it - also important to remember that Bernie Sanders is in a really good position in very important states today, California and Texas, home to millions of Latino voters, a population that he proved he could perform really strong with in the Nevada caucuses.

KING: So the field is narrower. There are fewer candidates. Two who are still in - Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Let's start with Michael Bloomberg. This is a big day for him, right?

DAVIS: It is. You know, he is running a campaign that has never really worked before in the modern era. He forgoed (ph) all four early states. Today is the first time he will appear on the ballot. He's running a national campaign. He's probably the only one who could do it because of his wealth. He has spent over $500 million on ads in the past 100 days.

KING: Wow.

DAVIS: You know, if he doesn't win in any states today, it's hard to see what kind of role he's going to play in this race. And maybe he could play a spoiler role against Joe Biden. He also suggested on Fox News last night that he could be in it all the way to a possible contested convention.

KING: OK. And how about Elizabeth Warren?

DAVIS: She's similarly doesn't really have much of a path. She's almost acknowledged that. She continues, though, to have a pretty core group of passionate supporters She's indicating she's going to stay in the race as long as possible. The big question for her today is can she hit those 15% thresholds you need to get any delegates. And if she does, what does she plan to do with them?

KING: NPR's Sue Davis in Miami with the Bloomberg campaign. Thanks, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.