Trump advisers say their ideal Democratic primary scenario is taking shape
One clear winner has emerged so far from the Democratic presidential contest, according to strategists aligned with the presidential re-election team this year — Donald Trump.
That's the thinking among Republican strategists as Joe Biden sees his poll numbers decline in New Hampshire and a two-way race between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg appears to emerge ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary here, yielding what they see as a best-case scenario for Trump.
Trump himself agrees. "If you want to vote for a weak candidate tomorrow, go ahead," he told supporters at a primary eve rally in Manchester, New Hampshire Monday night, suggesting they were free to sabotage the Democratic vote, since his victory in the Republican contest was certain. "Pick one. Pick the weakest one you think. I don't know who that is."
While politicians and political operatives aren't always the best at picking their opponents — Hillary Clinton's campaign was gleeful over the prospect of running against Trump in 2016 — Republicans say they are salivating over the prospect of a head-to-head contest with either Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, or Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Read the story.
New Hampshire primary breaks record
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office has provided verified results for the first in the nation primary.
A record number of ballots cast for a primary with an incumbent president on either side, surpassing the secretary of state's predictions.
TOTAL VOTES: 457,000
DEM TOTALS =
Turnout in N.H. surpasses 2008 with final results still to come
ANALYSIS: Bloomberg storms to the center of the 2020 presidential fray
Mike Bloomberg is starting to dominate the national political debate like no one in the past five years other than President Donald Trump.
He rocketed into third place nationally this week in a series of recent Democratic presidential primary polls, even though he hasn't participated in the first contests or any of the party's debates.
His name is constantly on the lips of rival candidates, political insiders and pundits — somehow omni-present by virtue of his absence from the primary here.
And he even found himself at the center of his first full-on controversy Tuesday, with the surfacing of audio recordings of him defending his stop-and-frisk policing policy in terms that the Trump campaign and fellow Democrats described as "racist."
But while the fight had been joined even before poll-closing time here Tuesday, there was a growing sense in Democratic and Republican political circles that Bloomberg is only on the verge of exploding onto the scene with his campaign to take the Democratic Party nomination by storm and drive Trump from power.
Read the analysis.
Bloomberg camp portrays him as 'uniter' amid stop-and-frisk fallout
As Mike Bloomberg copes with the fallout from past controversial comments about the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policies, a senior campaign adviser told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell the former mayor is a uniter.
"Our theory of the case from the very beginning is that Mike Bloomberg is best positioned in this field to unite various factions of the Democratic Party that need to come together to beat Donald Trump in November," the adviser, Tim O'Brien, said Wednesday on "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
Bloomberg was ripped by the president and even fellow Democratic presidential candidates after audio emerged Tuesday of him telling an interviewer in 2015 that "we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods" because "that's where are the crime is."
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser for Joe Biden's campaign, told reporters on Wednesday that she was "extremely disturbed" by Bloomberg's comments.
O'Brien said it "pains" Bloomberg "deeply that anyone would think stop-and-frisk defines who he is as an individual and a candidate. It also does not reflect the totality of Mike’s time as mayor and as a citizen of the world, which is not lost on voters of color either."
He noted that as New York City mayor, Bloomberg started an outreach program to young men of color, diversified New York's police force and "had the most progressive immigration policy of any big city mayor. None of that is the mark of someone who is a white racist trying to shove white cops down the throats of black people."
O'Brien also pushed back on criticism from rivals, including Bernie Sanders, that Bloomberg is trying to buy the election.
"There’s been I think a sort of a cartoonish reliance at this point to just say, well, he’s ahead because of a big ad spend, when in fact, he’s ahead because he’s got an incredible personal story, and a set of public policies that directly have an effect on the well-being of Americans who want to vote for him," O'Brien insisted before touting the benefits of Bloomberg's big spending.
Bloomberg is a "godsend" to the race, reinvigorating the Democratic Party's financial resources and organizational apparatus when it otherwise would be "severely outgunned" by Republicans, O'Brien said.
"As you know, we’ve said that this big machine that we’re building will be at the foot of the party for whoever the nominee is, even if it’s not Mike, because Mike sees this election as the culmination of his life’s work," he said. "Our movement is a stop Donald Trump movement."
Biden advisers assail Bloomberg over stop-and-frisk comments
The Biden campaign held a state of the race conference call with reporters featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., and senior adviser Symone Sanders, insisting the former VP has a path to the nomination while taking aim at the one candidate in particular: Mike Bloomberg.
Sanders said that Bloomberg is "unvetted," and said she was "extremely disturbed" by the leaked audio of Bloomberg discussing stop-and-frisk and racial profiling.
"A quick apology is just not going to cut the mustard," she said.
Richmond added that Bloomberg "has not had his turn in the barrel," and that the campaign "looks forward to drawing the comparison" with him on the debate stage. He referred to Bloomberg as a "billionaire who is all the sudden a Democrat."
The trio also insisted Biden would be able to stay competitive despite the steep imbalance in ad spending with Bloomberg.
"We know our message, we know our base, and we know that people know Joe Biden because Joe Biden knows people."
The New Hampshire primary in graphics: Turnout up, Sanders edges out Buttigieg for the win
The New Hampshire primary is in the books, and Bernie Sanders was the biggest winner of the night, claiming a narrow victory over Pete Buttigieg.
According to the latest numbers, Sanders leads Buttigieg 25.8 percent to 24.5 percent, with 98 percent of the vote in.
Sanders won in all parts of the state Tuesday night. An NBC News analysis of the returns shows he racked up wins in New Hampshire’s three biggest cities, Manchester, Nashua and Concord, and in the state’s smallest townships.
See NBC News' graphics on how the leading candidates did and turnout.
Clyburn says Biden 'has not projected out into the future the way people would like'
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told MSNBC's Craig Melvin on Wednesday that Joe Biden “has not projected out into the future the way people would like for him to do” amid poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Biden is still a strong contender in Clyburn’s home state of South Carolina, which is often viewed as his firewall, but Clyburn, a longtime ally of the former vice president and political kingmaker in his state, said billionaire businessman Tom Steyer has a "great" chance to become a top-tier candidate after building a robust operation there.
"I just think that [Biden] is still, as of this moment, the leading candidate in South Carolina," he said. "I think Steyer is doing well in South Carolina, and so I do believe as we go into South Carolina it is a five-way contest right now."
Clyburn said that the other billionaire in the Democratic race, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "will have one heck of a challenge trying to overcome" has past remarks supporting New York's previous stop-and-frisk policing policy "because that was a very, very racially charged policy.”
Clyburn added that Iowa and New Hampshire should “absolutely not” lead off the Democratic nomination process, "and I've been saying that for over 20 years."
Democratic hopefuls face test of strength with voters of color in Nevada, South Carolina
The New Hampshire primary is over. The Iowa caucus is — kind of, mostly — settled. But the Democratic primary race is just getting started. There are several more nominating contests in the days and weeks ahead that could prove decisive in selecting a Democratic nominee before the party's convention kicks off on July 13 in Milwaukee.
Here's what's next.
Nevada's Democratic caucus is scheduled for Feb. 22. The Democratic electorate here has a significant non-white population, and the caucuses are an opportunity for candidates to show their strength with Latinos, an important Democratic voting bloc. The union vote is also powerful.
The core of the Democratic base, black voters, resides in South Carolina, whose Feb. 29 primary is the first contest in the South and will test candidates' strength with this key demographic. More so than overwhelmingly white Iowa or New Hampshire, the state's electorate more closely resembles the larger Democratic Party, which gives the contest additional significance in selecting the nominee.
Read more about these and the other contests ahead.