Former vice president Joe Biden picked up some big-name endorsements — including those of two former Democratic rivals, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg — a day ahead of Super Tuesday, when 14 states will cast their votes.

Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), the former Senate majority leader, and Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, also endorsed Biden on Monday.

A consolidation of the party’s moderate wing came as fears grow that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, could amass an insurmountable lead in delegates. A third of the pledged delegates for the party’s presidential nomination are up for grabs on Tuesday.

With a decisive win in Saturday’s South Carolina primary and his spate of new endorsements, Biden is seeking to turn the nominating contest into a two-person race against Sanders. The Vermont senator is leading polls in delegate-rich California and Texas and is aiming to build a formidable lead ahead of the Democratic National Convention.

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg will appear on ballots Tuesday for the first time, facing the first real test of his candidacy after spending half a billion dollars on his campaign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also are competing in the Super Tuesday contests. Investor Tom Steyer dropped out of the race over the weekend after disappointing showings in South Carolina.

More on the election:

3:42 a.m.
Link copied

Obergefell, plaintiff in 2015 marriage equality case, endorses Biden

Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, announced his support for Biden on Monday.

“I am proud and excited to endorse Joe Biden for president,” Obergefell said in a Facebook post, according to the Washington Blade. “We have the opportunity to change our nation for the better in November, and I believe Joe is the candidate who can make that happen.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2015 case legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

3:40 a.m.
Link copied

Sanders memo declares new phase in fight with Biden

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Sanders campaign officials plan to send a memo to surrogates and staff declaring a new phase in the competition between Sanders and Biden.

“We are now entering the phase of the primary in which the differences between Bernie and Biden will take center stage,” says the memo, shared with The Washington Post by Sanders campaign officials. Campaign manager Faiz Shakir and senior adviser Jeff Weaver are listed as authors.

The memo continues, “These differences make clear that the choice between these two candidates is stark — it is a choice between the party’s core economic and social justice agenda, and the Washington establishment’s agenda that aims to protect and enrich the wealthy and well-connected. The differences also spotlight how Bernie’s agenda is a far more popular general election agenda than Biden.”

The memo comes as Biden has gained new steam in the race, having secured a flurry of endorsements from prominent Democrats.

It encourages supporters to highlight contrasts with Biden on health care, trade, foreign policy and student debt. Sanders has already highlighted differences in some of these areas. The last topic is an extension of attacks Sanders and his campaign has lobbed against Biden on the basis of his support for a bankruptcy bill.

Read the full memo here.

3:40 a.m.
Link copied

Sanders offers an olive branch to Buttigieg, Klobuchar supporters, but attacks Biden

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Closing out his pre-Super Tuesday campaign here Monday night, Sanders offered an olive branch to supporters of Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

But he took aim at the candidate they have opted to endorse: Biden.

“To all of Amy and Pete’s millions of supporters, the door is open, come on in,” Sanders said. He praised Klobuchar, calling her “one of the hardest workers that I know.” Of Buttigieg, Sanders said, “Pete’s campaign was a historic campaign and a brave campaign.”

Left unsaid in his remarks: Both former candidates threw their support to Biden earlier in the day.

Sanders attacked Biden, saying he is “wrong on the issues.” He also criticized Biden for receiving contributions from wealthy Americans and argued that the former vice president would struggle against President Trump in November. But the comments about Buttigieg and Klobuchar amounted to a unifying message from a candidate known more for his defiance. Even as he praised his former rivals, Sanders continued to go after the “economic and political establishment.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who introduced him, appeared to allude to Biden’s appearances with his former rivals in Texas. “We do this because while others are gathered tonight to fight our movement, we are gathered to fight for somebody we don’t know,” Omar said.

At the same time, Sanders continued to give the party as a whole poor marks. “Imagine a Democratic Party in which working people and young people finally have a real voice,” he said, touting his movement and mocking the criticism it has received.

3:13 a.m.
Link copied

O’Rourke endorses Biden at Texas rally

DALLAS — At the end of a Texas rally, Biden introduced Beto O’Rourke and his wife, Amy, describing O’Rourke as a candidate who electrified the state and made the country better.

In Spanish, O’Rourke said Texas welcomed Biden as the next president the United States. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I will be casting my ballot for Joe Biden.”

“We need someone who can beat Donald Trump,” he said. “We need somebody who can beat him. And in Joe Biden we have that man.”

He described Biden as “the antithesis” of Trump.

“We need somebody who can bring us together and heal us. We need somebody who will fight for Democracy here and abroad because Democracy is under attack here and abroad,” he said. “The fact that you take the time to listen to us, to be here, to understand our concerns as well as our aspirations, means something to us.”

Biden praised O’Rourke’s effort to tackle gun violence after a mass shooting in El Paso. He said he’d call on O’Rourke for help in addressing similar issues in the future.

“Let me make something clear: I’m going to make sure this is not the last time you see this guy. You’re going to take on the gun problem with me. You’re going to lead this effort.”

In an email to supporters sent soon after his onstage endorsement, O’Rourke wrote:

“Joe Biden is kind and decent. Empathetic and caring. He will reassert our moral standing in the world at a moment that it’s been called into question, and he will take a strong stand for democracy and the rule of law at a moment that both are under attack at home and abroad.”

2:07 a.m.
Link copied

Bloomberg is ‘not a Democrat,’ Biden says

Biden responded to Bloomberg’s criticism of him Monday night by taking aim at the former New York mayor’s track record during his time in office.

“You can spend a billion dollars, but you can’t move away from what your record is,” Biden said of Bloomberg in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Asked whether he believes Bloomberg is a Democrat, Biden responded, “He’s not a Democrat.” Bloomberg was a Republican for much of his political career. He registered as an independent in 2007 and rejoined the Democratic Party in 2018.

In recent days, Bloomberg has sought to blunt Biden’s momentum by arguing that the presidency requires “a manager and an executive” rather than a legislator — in an apparent dismissal of Biden’s eight years as vice president.

Biden noted Monday night that President Barack Obama handed him “significant presidential authority,” including oversight of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package.

Biden also weighed in on Klobuchar and Buttigieg, both of whom endorsed him earlier Monday. The former vice president said that “they’re both qualified to do any job” and recounted his conversation Sunday with Buttigieg, during which he urged the former South Bend, Ind., mayor to stay engaged in politics.

“There’s a lot of things he could do in an administration if I’m president,” Biden said.

2:04 a.m.
Link copied

Abigail Spanberger says she voted for Klobuchar

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, one of three freshman congresswomen who flipped red seats blue in Virginia in 2018, said she chose Klobuchar for the presidential nomination.

Spanberger, a former CIA officer practiced at secrecy, had planned to keep her absentee ballot vote to herself, but hours after Klobuchar dropped out of the race, Spanberger revealed her choice. Virginia is among the 14 states voting on Super Tuesday.

She added, “On Capitol Hill, you’ve shown that finding common ground is how we most effectively govern. I was proud to have cast my vote for you, and as you exit the race, I thank you for running.”

Reps. Elaine Luria and Jennifer Wexton are backing former vice president Joe Biden, who picked up a string of high-profile Virginia endorsements before and after his decisive win in South Carolina, including Sen. Tim Kaine; former governor Terry McAuliffe and Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation.

2:01 a.m.
Link copied

Tables turn as congressional Democrats reconvene after Biden’s S.C. win

In a sign of how dramatically Biden’s sweeping South Carolina win recast the Democratic presidential race, previously glum centrists were upbeat and progressives defensive as House Democrats reconvened Monday for votes in Washington.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose late Biden endorsement probably helped pad the former vice president’s victory, was in a jovial mood as he entered the chamber.

Asked about Biden's stunning 48-hour turnaround, he said, “What a difference a day makes."

Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), an early endorser of Pete Buttigieg who immediately endorsed Biden on Sunday after Buttigieg suspended his campaign, said the party’s centrist wing was stepping back from the ledge after contemplating left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the nominee.

“People are a lot more optimistic than we were five, six days ago,” he said. “All of a sudden it looks like we’ll be pretty united."

Nearby, one of Sanders’s most high-profile supporters, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) found herself answering tough questions about Biden’s surge — and warned reporters not to assume a winnowed field would be to Biden’s benefit.

“We know that Senator Sanders is a lot of people’s second choice,” she said. “I think sometimes folks get too stuck almost in an overly ideological frame. So to assume that all of Buttigieg’s supporters would go to Biden or any other candidate is a wrong assumption.”

The narrower field, she allowed, would benefit Biden in some ways: “There’s a lot of special interests, there’s a lot of people who are dedicated to preventing a progressive surge in the Democratic Party, and those resources and that political support is absolutely coalescing,” she said. “If voters coalesce in the same way that big donors are coalescing is something that remains to be seen.”

1:31 a.m.
Link copied

Sanders says it’s ‘no surprise’ Democratic establishment doesn’t want him to win

In an interview on CNN Monday night, Sanders dismissed Biden’s recent surge in endorsements, describing it as the clearest sign yet that the Democratic establishment is against his own campaign.

“From Day One, we have been taking on the establishment. … Let me be very clear, it is no surprise they do not want me to become president,” Sanders said.

The Vermont senator was also asked about Trump’s claim earlier Monday that Democrats are waging a “coup” against his campaign. Sanders replied that the president should keep out of Democratic politics.

“Maybe, just maybe, he might want to worry about the coronavirus — he might want to worry about the stock market,” Sanders said.

He added: “President Trump, stay out of the Democratic primary. Why don’t you do your job for a change, as president?”

1:29 a.m.
Link copied

Buttigieg endorses Biden, calls for ‘a politics that brings back dignity’

At a joint event in Dallas on Monday night, Buttigieg announced that he is endorsing Biden, throwing his support behind the Democrat who has rapidly come to be seen as the most plausible alternative to Sanders in the wake of the South Carolina primary.

“We need a politics that’s about decency, a politics that brings back dignity. … That’s what Joe Biden has been practicing his entire life,” Buttigieg said.

Minutes later, his team sent out a fundraising missive encouraging his supporters to donate to Biden. “I’m proud to stand with Joe Biden to help make him our next president of the United States,” the Buttigieg team wrote. “And it’s why I’m urging everyone who came to our campaign in order to change our politics and defeat this president to support him too.”

Buttigieg’s endorsement came a day after he announced that he no longer saw a path to the nomination and would exit the race. And it came shortly after Klobuchar said she was no longer competing for the nomination and would back Biden.

The former South Bend, Ind., mayor and Biden spoke by phone Sunday night after Buttigieg signaled his departure, according to two Buttigieg aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

Appearing in South Bend later on Sunday, Buttigieg ended his campaign with a speech that, while not an endorsement, echoed Biden’s arguments for consolidating behind him. He talked, in particular, about the need for a candidate on the top of the ticket who will help, not hinder, down-ballot Democrats in the fall.

Buttigieg, 38, saw a meteoric rise from virtual unknown to top-tier contender and became the first openly gay candidate to make a high-profile presidential run. He struggled to win support from black voters, a key pillar of the Democratic coalition and a vulnerability that was emphasized Saturday in South Carolina, where he finished fourth.

Biden showered Buttigieg with praise at Monday night’s event, telling the crowd, “This is a man who is not only brilliant, but who is decent.”

“I am absolutely confident, with further exposure of the nation to Pete … that there is no limitation to what this man can get done,” Biden said. “And the fact that he’s prepared to help me means a great deal to me.”

He added that Buttigieg “reminds me of my son Beau,” saying he “has a backbone like a ramrod.”

1:25 a.m.
Link copied

Trump mocks 2020 hopefuls at Charlotte rally

CHARLOTTE — At a “Keep America Great” rally here Monday night, Trump spent several minutes mocking Democratic presidential candidates, saying Buttigieg and Klobuchar deserved to be impeached for dropping out of the race on the eve of Super Tuesday.

“They both said they supported Sleepy Joe,” Trump said, referring to Biden. He called their anticipated endorsements of the former vice president a “quid pro quo.”

“They made a deal,” Trump said, without any evidence. “They should be impeached!”

He repeated his baseless claim that the primary was “rigged” against Sanders, saying, “Crazy Bernie’s going to be more crazy when he finds out what they’re doing.”

At one point, Trump raised the prospect of a Biden victory. If that happens, Trump said, “they’re going to put him into a home and other people are going to be running the country.”

Trump lamented that Bloomberg was interviewed Monday night on Fox News, jabbing at the network for bringing the former New York mayor on air.

“Fox, they want to be politically correct,” Trump said. “They end up interviewing more Democrats than Republicans. I don’t know what’s going on with Fox.”

1:19 a.m.
Link copied

O’Rourke to endorse Biden

O’Rourke is planning to endorse Biden on Monday night, according to two people familiar with the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

It is a reversal for O’Rourke, who had been telling people in the past few days that he had no plans to endorse, and it caught friends and allies off guard the people said.

O’Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso who ran a strong but unsuccessful challenge against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, could help Biden in Texas, which has one of the biggest delegate prizes on Super Tuesday. O’Rourke ignited significant energy and fundraising at the start of his campaign but fizzled as the race wore on.

Late last year, O’Rourke started a political group called Powered by People that’s focused on mobilizing volunteers across the state to try to flip several congressional districts that have long been represented by Republicans and the Texas House, where Democrats are nine seats away from the majority.

Jenna Johnson contributed to this report.

12:37 a.m.
Link copied

Sanders ‘not electable,’ Bloomberg says

Bloomberg said Monday that he thinks Sanders could not win in a general election battle against Trump — but that he would stick to his pledge to vote for the senator from Vermont.

In a Fox News Channel town hall, Bloomberg saved his sharpest barbs for Sanders. He argued that if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, “he won’t even keep all the moderates on the Democratic side. Some will go over to Trump."

“He’s not electable,” Bloomberg said, describing some of Sanders’s ideas as “crazy” and maintaining that “the public doesn’t want that kind of change.”

If it came down to a choice between Sanders and Trump, however, Bloomberg said he would vote for the Democratic nominee.

“I have said that I would vote for Sanders, but I would not be happy doing it,” Bloomberg said. “But I have said I would.”

11:30 p.m.
Link copied

Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly endorses Biden

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, who Democrats are hoping can unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R) in this year’s Arizona Senate race, announced Monday that he is backing Biden for president — becoming the latest down-ballot Democrat to distance himself from Sanders and embrace the former vice president’s campaign.

“Joe Biden understands the challenges Arizonans face and knows what it’s like to be knocked down, get back up, and keep serving others,” Kelly said in a tweet. “We need a president who will unite us and find common ground to get things done. That’s why I’ll be voting for Joe Biden.”

The move comes after McSally launched an ad last month seeking to tie Kelly to Sanders, describing the pair as “too liberal for Arizona.” Kelly said in a recent interview that he will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

The battle for McSally’s seat will be one of this year’s most closely watched Senate races.

11:16 p.m.
Link copied

Sanders organizer after Klobuchar dropout: ‘It’s either Bernie or Biden, right?’

SANTA ANA, Calif. — News of Klobuchar’s decision to exit the race and back Biden flashed Monday on a television screen in a Sanders campaign office in this city 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles that is the diverse, beating heart of a new Orange County.

“The establishment is closing ranks,” said a field organizer, dispatching volunteers to persuade low- to mid-propensity voters — key to the campaign’s argument that it can energize new segments of the electorate, lifting turnout in the quest to oust President Trump. The person was not authorized to comment publicly. Organizers here were hoping that enough supporters of Buttigieg and Klobuchar had already turned in their ballots to blunt the last-minute boost for Biden.

Out of the office, they were also pitching Sanders as an underdog now fighting the entire field. Jorge Serrato, a 32-year-old organizer for the AFSCME local at the University of California at Irvine, told the 20-year-olds who answered the doors about his reasons for backing the senator from Vermont, which came down to the need to “change the whole system.”

“It’s either Bernie or Biden, right?” he told a 23-year-old college student who was helping with his mother’s work as a janitor in a block of apartments in Santa Ana, which is more than three-quarters Latino. Serrato sought to turn the centrist consolidation around Biden to Sanders’s favor, arguing that Californians could send a signal that they want a different direction. Polling in recent days has suggested that Sanders is the favorite.

It was suspicious, Serrato mused, how quickly Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who exited the race within 24 hours of each other, had fallen in line. “It seems like there was some sort of backroom deal,” he said, without offering specifics. “It can’t be pure coincidence.”

Biden told a CBS affiliate on Monday that he had communicated to Buttigieg “a couple of days ago” that he would put the former South Bend, Ind., mayor in his administration if elected.