5 things to watch in the South Carolina primary: A moment of truth for Joe Biden

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Democratic primary here on Saturday will determine whether Joe Biden’s campaign is alive and kicking, or whether another candidate can lay claim to being the strongest challenger to national front-runner Bernie Sanders.

South Carolina is the first majority-black primary electorate on the calendar — about 60 percent in 2016 — and the winner in four out of the last five contests since 1992 has gone on to capture the party’s nomination (the exception, John Edwards of neighboring North Carolina in 2004, ended up as the vice presidential pick.)

The primary comes three days before the immensely important "Super Tuesday" contests, and Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar are all jockeying for position.

Here are five things to watch for when polls close at 7 p.m. EST.

Contested convention talk heats up after Biden's big South Carolina win

Following a commanding win in South Carolina on Saturday, Biden suggested Sunday he's willing to battle through a contested convention should Sanders enter the nominating event with a plurality but not the majority of delegates needed to seal the nomination.

Warren's campaign also signaled Sunday she too plans to fight for the nomination through the convention even if she does not come out of the primaries with the largest delegate total.

Those remarks came after Sanders said at a debate last month that whoever has the most delegates entering the convention, even if it is not a majority, should be the nominee. Rivals have called that a reversal of the Vermont senator's position in 2016 when he ran against Hillary Clinton.

Read more here.

Campaign's next phase: Go big to win or hang on for dear life

WASHINGTON — The Democratic presidential primary is about to super-scale, moving from a series of single-state battles for momentum to a national multi-front war for delegates, putting extra pressure on underdog campaigns that can't raise massive amounts of money or field large armies of supporters in dozens of places at once.

Half the states in the county will vote this month, making the person-to-person politics of the small early states no match for the more-is-more style of campaigning needed to win mega-states like California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, which all vote this month.

The scale of the upcoming contests is enormous. About 10 times as many delegates are at stake on Super Tuesday as were up for grabs in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined, and nearly three times as many people have already voted early in California alone as voted in all four early states.

"There are a bunch of candidates who need to ask themselves why they're in this race," said Lilly Adams, a former top aide to Kamala Harris' presidential campaign. "Are they in it today to be introduced as a presidential candidate at events or are they in it to win? If they are the former not the latter then they should get out."

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Selma churchgoers turn their backs on Bloomberg during speech

A group of parishioners stood and turned their backs on Bloomberg as he was speaking during a church service in Selma, Alabama. Bloomberg and several other Democratic candidates visited Selma on Sunday as part of an annual commemoration of the Bloody Sunday marches. 

Around ten people stood up to protest Bloomberg by turning their back to him halfway through his speech. Of those standing, two of them were white and a majority of them were women. It’s unclear exactly what they were protesting about Bloomberg, but it was evident they disagreed with him enough to disrupt a commemorative church service. 

Bloomberg continued speaking and did not react to the protest. He looked unfazed after he finished his speech and returned to the pew.

The protests came after an awkward interaction with Rev. Leodonis Strong, the pastor of Brown AME Church.  Strong noted that Bloomberg had initially declined Strong's offer to visit the church on Sunday, saying he was "too busy defeating Donald Trump."

The congregants laughed. Moments after Bloomberg began to speak, Strong came back on stage to clarify that he thinks it’s important he came because "it shows willingness on his part to change."

Senate candidate: S.C. turnout sign of changing South

Trump reignites Bloomberg feud, says billionaire on 'a very dark and lonely path'

Trump reignited his feud with Bloomberg, targeting his advisers in tweets overnight Saturday into Sunday morning.

"Mini Mike Bloomberg’s consultants and so-called 'advisors'(how did that advice work out? Don’t ask!), are on the 'gravy train' and all making a fortune for themselves pushing Mini hard, when they knew he never had what it takes," Trump tweeted in the first of two tweets. "Don’t pay them anymore Mike, they led you down a very dark and lonely path! Your reputation will never be the same!"

Just after midnight, Trump pointed to Steyer exiting the race, saying that he would "find it hard to believe" that Steyer or Bloomberg "would contribute to the Democrat Party, even against me, after the way they have been treated — laughed at & mocked."

"The real politicians ate them up and spit them out!" he added.

Read more here.

Candidates need young people to boost Latino voter turnout. Here's why.

Ofelia Alonso, 24, thinks there's a big misconception that most Latinos are "part of an older generation who doesn't care about politics."

That's why she's wasn't surprised that 75 percent of young Latinos in Texas had not heard from any presidential campaign in the last six months, according to a poll from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which studies young Americans’ political engagement.

"Organizers are the ones engaging with young Latino voters here, not the parties, not candidates," said Alonso, a field coordinator for the grassroots organization Texas Rising in the Rio Grande Valley.

"I often ask myself why people insist on saying that we're not involved, and it's because we're not included in these conversations," she said. "Candidates are not coming to engage with us."

Read more here.

Buttigieg: Campaign pressing onto Super Tuesday despite South Carolina result

WASHINGTON — Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg told "Meet the Press" Sunday his campaign is pressing on after a fourth-place finish in South Carolina's Democratic primary, arguing that his message has "resonated across the country." 

Buttigieg said that his campaign has been able to "beat the odds and defy all the expectations" before, but he added that he's keeping an eye on how he can best help the party defeat President Trump in November.

"Every day I'm getting up, looking at how we can do what's best for the party. It's why we got into this race in the first place, the belief that a different kind of message and a different kind of messenger could rally people together, could forge new alliances, could help us reach out in the very places where we have the best messaging, yet found ourselves defeated by President Trump in 2016 and we cannot let that happen again," he said.

"And every day we're in this campaign is a day that we've reached the conclusion that pushing forward is the best thing that we can do for the country and for the party."

Warren campaign memo: 'We're in this race for the long haul'

HOUSTON — Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is making clear that they’re not going anywhere — and that, when the primary’s said and done, they believe no one will hit the delegate majority needed to claim the nomination outright. 

“We’re in this race for the long haul,” campaign manager Roger Lau wrote in a new memo out to supporters Sunday morning, in which he touted the campaign's biggest fundraising totals ever, increased ad buys in key upcoming states, and — citing “internal projections” — an expected “sizable” delegate haul on Super Tuesday from “nearly every state.”

The memo comes a day after the Massachusetts senator finished a distant fifth in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary and does not name one state that they expect to outright win come Tuesday.

After placing third in Iowa in early February, Warren has not won any new delegates since — leaving her fourth overall in the field for delegate totals.

But the campaign points to the $29 million they say they raised in February means she has the ability to stay in the race. The campaign says their movement is now 1.25 million grassroots donors strong, with an average donation of $31. 

Warren’s team, like the other campaigns in a similar position, argues that “Super Tuesday will greatly winnow this field." And, they say that all of their Super Tuesday staffers and organizers will be re-deployed after Tuesday to states voting later in the calendar.

The memo says that “as the dust settles after March 3rd, the reality of this race will be clear: no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination.”

The campaign also says it has increased Super Tuesday ad spending and that they’re also spending for states down the road. According to Lau, they’ve made more than $4.1 million in paid media investments in Wisconsin, as well as later March states — with a special, six-figure focus on black-owned radio stations across the March states.

“After Wisconsin nearly one-third of the pledged delegates will still be waiting to be elected, and there will be a three-week gap between electing delegates for the first time since voting began,” Lau writes. “In the road to the nomination, the Wisconsin primary is halftime, and the convention in Milwaukee is the final play.”

Sanders leads in Texas, is tied with Biden in N.C., new NBC News/Marist polls find

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders holds a double-digit lead over his closest Democratic rival in Texas, while he’s essentially tied with Joe Biden in North Carolina, according to a pair of NBC News/Marist polls of these two key Super Tuesday states taken before Biden's convincing victory in South Carolina.

In Texas, which will award a total of 228 pledged delegates in the Democratic contest on March 3, Sanders gets the support of 34 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, and Biden gets 19 percent.

In North Carolina, which will award 110 delegates on the same day, Sanders gets support from 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while Biden gets 24 percent — well within the poll’s margin of error.

Read here for the full story.

Biden takes aim at Sanders' 'very controversial' ideas after S.C. win

Biden took aim at Sanders on Sunday, saying on "Meet the Press" that Sanders’ policies are “controversial” and that the Vermont senator would lose to President Donald Trump if he were the Democratic nominee.

Americans "are not looking for revolution, they are looking for results, they’re looking for change, they’re looking for movement forward,” Biden said hours after he trounced Sanders in South Carolina's primary.

Read more here.