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2020 Super Tuesday live updates: Biden sweeps the South, wins most delegates

More than 1,300 delegates — or about a third of the total — were at play on Super Tuesday.
Image: Voters in 14 states will cast ballots in Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," March 3, 2020.
Voters in 14 states cast ballots in Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," March 3, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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Fourteen states and one territory held nominating contests for the Democratic Party's candidate for president on Tuesday, the most pivotal day on the presidential primary calendar.

When the polls closed on Super Tuesday and results came in, it became clear that former Vice President Joe Biden had swept the Southern states, winning the primaries in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, as well as Minnesota and Massachusetts, and had ended the night with the most delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders came out on top in Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont, NBC News projected.

On Wednesday, NBC News declared Biden the apparent winner in Maine, though the race against Sanders in the state was a tight one.

More than 1,300 delegates — about a third of the total — were at play, more than on any other day in the primary season.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.

Live Blog

Sanders: 'Establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar' to back Biden

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders said Sunday that the Democratic Party establishment pressured his former presidential primary opponents to back Joe Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. 

Both former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorsed Biden in the days before the Super Tuesday contests. The former vice president did better than originally expected in those contests last week, racking up a delegate lead over Sanders and upending the nominating fight. 

"The explanation is not complicated. The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar who ran really aggressive campaigns," the Vermont Independent senator said.

"I know both of them. They worked really, really hard. But suddenly, right before Super Tuesday, they announced their withdrawal. If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which was kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts."

Buttigieg senior adviser Lis Smith responded to Sanders in a tweet, saying that his "decision to get out of the race was his and his alone."

On Sunday, California Sen. Kamala Harris also endorsed Biden

Earlier in the interview, Sanders argued his campaign is well-suited to win the state of Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday, taking shots at Biden's record in the process.

"I think we've got a real shot to win here in Michigan because the agenda that we are talking about is an agenda that works for the working families of this state," Sanders said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

"And furthermore, it really contrasts my views with Joe Biden. Now that we're down a two-way race, I think it is clear for the American people to see where Biden's record is and where my record is."

Sanders pointed to Biden's support for trade agreements, which the Vermont senator said cost Michiganders jobs. And he said that Biden's support from some wealthy donors undercuts his ability to represent the working class. 

He went on to defend from the Biden campaign's argument that negative campaigning will hurt Democrats' ability to defeat President Trump in November, a message the Biden campaign is putting up on the airwaves.  

Biden: Trump doesn't want to face me

Biden, fresh off his Super Tuesday success, told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie that "the one thing the president doesn't want to do is face me."

"I will beat him," he added. "Period."

Gov. Steve Bullock 'pretty serious' about Montana Senate bid

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is "pretty serious" about running for the U.S. Senate, a person familiar with Bullock's thinking tells NBC News.

The filing deadline to enter the race is Monday.

Bullock, a former 2020 presidential candidate, has citied his three children, two in high school and one in middle school, in repeatedly saying he has no intention of challenging Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who is up for re-election in November.

Bullock is in the final year of his two terms as governor.

Sanders says attacks urging Warren to drop out are 'disgusting'

Sanders on Wednesday called the online attacks against Warren urging her to drop out of the race "disgusting" and said people should "respect the time and the space that she needs to make her decision."

The Vermont lawmaker said he spoke with Warren over the phone earlier Wednesday and said that she had not made any decision regarding her campaign. 

"What Senator Warren told me is she is assessing her campaign," he said. "She has not made any decision as of this point and it is important for all of us, certainly me who has to know Elizabeth Warren for many, many years, to respect the time and the space that she needs to make her decision."

Warren campaign manager Roger Lau told staff in an email Wednesday morning that the senator is assessing her path forward in the 2020 race after a disappointing Super Tuesday finish.

Sanders called her an "excellent senator" who has run a "strong campaign" and called for an end to the online attacks.

"I think the Twitter world is an opportunity for people to debate issues...but not to make vitriolic attacks on someone because you disagree with them," he said.

Joe Biden is the apparent winner in Maine, NBC News projects

Joe Biden is the apparent winner of the Democratic primary in Maine, NBC News projects.

Maine is the 10th Super Tuesday state that the former VP has won. California is the only Super Tuesday contest that has yet to be called by NBC News.

House Homeland chair seeks protection for 2020 candidates after Biden incident

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson is requesting Secret Service protection for the Democratic presidential candidates after anti-dairy protesters stormed the stage at former Vice President Joe Biden's rally on Tuesday night.

Biden and Bernie Sanders in particular appear to satisfy several criteria for affording the protection, Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and congressional leaders.

"Taking into consideration the remaining candidates’ large campaign operations, high polling averages, as well as physical threats to their safety — all factors contemplated by the Guidelines — I urge you to immediately initiate the consultation process to determine whether to provide USSS protection to certain major Democratic presidential candidates," Thompson wrote.

Secret Service protection is assigned to candidates based on decisions made by the top Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress in consultation with the homeland security secretary and the Secret Service. 

“The Democratic Congress is worried about it,” Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., the Biden campaign's co-chairman, said Wednesday after a reporter asked whether the incident at Biden's rally had prompted a request for protection.

Heading into the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests, President Donald Trump professed nonchalance about the outcome.

"I don't care who wins," he told reporters at the White House, downplaying the impact of results that could affect his re-election fortunes.

The hours that followed did bring bad news for the president: A leading potential competitor, Joe Biden, proved his strength Tuesday night among key groups of voters needed to win the general election, with the former vice president claiming solid support from black and suburban voters.

But the night also delivered some good news for him and his team: the reality that the Democratic contest appears far from over, with Bernie Sanders' progressive wing showing no signs of coalescing behind the establishment pick — meaning weeks, if not months, of potential party infighting.

Trump's advisers have long said their best-case scenario wasn't the emergence of one particular candidate but rather a drawn-out Democratic nominating process that would divide the party. With Sanders and Biden now in a clear two-man race, that scenario seemed likely.

Read the full analysis here.

President Donald Trump called Joe Biden's Super Tuesday performance an "incredible comeback" during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday before mocking both Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg's poor showings.

Warren "was really a spoiler" for progressive rival Bernie Sanders while Bloomberg "made a fool out of himself," Trump told reporters.

The president made the comments about the candidates gunning for his job after allowing reporters in to part of a meeting administration officials were having with airline executives about the coronavirus. Reporters were being ushered out of the room after Trump answered several questions about the virus when the president said, "I can't believe it. No questions on the election?"

Read more on what Trump said about the Democratic candidates' showings on Tuesday.

 

#RiggedPrimary trends, but not for the reason you'd think

The morning after Biden won most of the Super Tuesday states, the hashtag #RiggedPrimary surged to the top of Twitter’s trending topics section— despite no evidence that any of the contests had been rigged.

The hashtag received initial support from fans of Sanders, who claimed that the recent dropouts of Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Steyer were part of a coordinated, Democratic Party-fueled conspiracy to vault Biden to the nomination.

But the hashtag was primarily driven to the top spot, however, by people denouncing the idea that the primary was rigged, accidentally fanning conspiracy flames. The top three tweets receiving the most engagement about the hashtag on Wednesday morning all bemoaned the viral spread of the hashtag.

The same phenomenon, where a political hashtag became the top trend in the U.S.  because of users tweeting viral denunciations, occurred in January when Warren defenders accidentally pushed the hashtag #NeverWarren to the top of Twitter’s trending topics.