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.
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Sanders launches three new ads targeting Biden
Bernie Sanders launched three new ads on Wednesday in nine states targeting former Vice President Joe Biden as the race rapidly narrowed following Biden's Super Tuesday victories.
One of the ads, "Feel the Bern," focuses on past comments then-President Barack Obama made about Sanders, complimenting him for being authentic and someone who has gotten bills passed for veterans. It's a new kind of ad for Sanders, as his campaign typically likes to draw on Sanders being an outsider, rather than a deal-maker.
Biden has consistently run his own TV and digital ads that show Obama complimenting him and granting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And the Biden team is responding to Sanders' use of Obama, saying that Obama "chose" Biden, while Sanders considered a primary challenge against him.
"Barack Obama chose Vice President Biden to be his partner over 8 years in the White House, entrusting him with managing the stimulus that saved our economy from a depression, obtaining the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act, and countless national security priorities," Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said. "By contrast, Senator Sanders explored a primary challenge to President Obama, who he compared to a 'moderate Republican' and said was not a 'progressive.' As recent history has proven, no quantity of ads can rewrite history — and there's no substitute for genuinely having the back of the best president of our lifetimes."
The Biden team is also re-upping an ad they ran against Sanders in South Carolina that focused on Sanders' consideration of a primary challenge.
Sanders' two other ads, "Protect Social Security" and "Decimated," take direct aim at Biden's past votes.
The ads call out Biden for comments he made about freezing federal spending, which would have included Social Security benefits for a limited time, and for supporting trade deals, like NAFTA, that Sanders opposed.
Sanders and Biden have traded barbs on Social Security and trade deals before — Sanders is one of the only Democratic presidential candidates who voted against and spoke out against the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
The new ads will run in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Washington — all of which vote on either March 10 or 17.
Bloomberg ends presidential campaign, endorses Biden
Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor who jumped into the 2020 presidential race late and spent over $500 million on an unorthodox campaign, has ended his bid for the Democratic nomination, but vowed to stay in the fight in an attempt to defeat President Donald Trump in November.
“After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists," Bloomberg said in a statement. "But I remain clear-eyed about my overriding objective: victory in November. Not for me, but for our country. And so while I will not be the nominee, I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life."
Bloomberg said defeating the president means uniting behind the most viable Democratic candidate, which he deemed to be former Vice President Joe Biden.
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Warren assessing path forward in 2020 race, aide says
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is assessing her path forward in the Democratic presidential race, an aide to the contender told NBC News on Wednesday morning.
The aide said that Warren is discussing the next steps with her team.
Warren campaign manager Roger Lau sent an email to staff Wednesday morning, saying they are “disappointed“ and that they’re assessing the path forward. He noted that Warren’s “going to take time right now to think through the right way to continue this fight.”
Warren did not win any of the Super Tuesday contests, including her own state of Massachusetts, which former Vice President Joe Biden won.
According to the NBC News delegate count so far in the primary season, Warren has been allotted 39 delegates in total, compared to 453 for Biden and 373 for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
This comes as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is also reassessing his campaign.
Clyburn 'surprised' by Biden's strong Super Tuesday performance
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Wednesday that he was "surprised" by former Vice President Joe Biden's wins on Super Tuesday
“I was a bit surprised," Clyburn said in an interview on CNN. "It did go better than many of us expected. [For Biden] to be one point ahead in Maine, no I didn't expect that. [For Biden] to be winning Massachusetts, I did not expect that at all."
Clyburn is considered to have played a major role in influencing Biden's victory in South Carolina's primary last week after he endorsed the former vice president.
As of Wednesday morning, Maine was still too close to call, according to NBC News. Clyburn said he "had no idea" what former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg would do after his poor showing on Tuesday, but said Democrats should all coalesce around Biden.
"I do believe in Joe Biden. He gives us the opportunity to bring this country back to what the founding fathers had in mind and what we've been trying to do, trying to build a more perfect union," Clyburn said. “I think that all of the stuff about him being too touchy, making people uncomfortable, I think it caused him to pull back and not be himself. He is a guy who is very affectionate, is very, well, let's call it compassionate. And I think that that's what had him a little bit robotic going into this campaign.”
Asked where he thinks Biden would be if he had not endorsed him, Clyburn said, "I know what you're trying to get me to say. I'm not gonna say it. Just let me say this, I feel that this country's democracy is at stake."
On MSNBC Tuesday night, longtime Democratic strategist James Carville credited Clyburn with changing the dynamics of the race.
"That guy literally saved the Democratic Party," he said.
Bloomberg spent nearly $200M on ads. It didn't get him much.
Money can buy you (a lot) of ads, but for Michael Bloomberg, it couldn’t win him states.
The billionaire former New York City mayor’s eye-popping ad spending made headlines in recent weeks, as Bloomberg dropped a whopping $198 million on television and radio ads between Jan. 1 and Tuesday, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
But despite spending almost five times more cash than the rest of the remaining Democratic field combined, Bloomberg came away with a disappointing night, winning the American Samoa primary and 18 delegates nationwide — approximately $11 million per delegate.
Click here for the breakdown.
FIRST READ: Biden grabs the delegate lead, and it's going to be hard for Sanders to catch him
We mapped out yesterday morning what we thought might be a super Super Tuesday for Joe Biden. We just didn’t realize how great for him it would actually be.
Biden won nine states (Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) versus three for Bernie Sanders (Colorado, Utah and Vermont), with two states still not called by NBC News (California and Maine).
More significantly, Biden has won — so far — 87 more delegates than Sanders from yesterday's contests, according to NBC’s Decision Desk. And even when all of the California delegates eventually get allocated, we still believe Biden will emerge as the delegate winner from Super Tuesday.
And here’s why that’s a problem for Sanders: The future contests don’t get any easier for him.
Get the rest of First Read here.
Aides convinced Trump to hold his fire on Jeff Sessions — until Wednesday
President Donald Trump had been privately itching for days to weigh in on Alabama's Senate race to bash his first and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is running to win his old seat back, but aides convinced him to hold his fire — until Wednesday morning.
The president wanted to criticize Sessions in advance of Tuesday's primary, two people close to Trump said, but they encouraged him to hold his fire until results came in.
Sessions, who served in the Senate until he joined the Trump administration, is now headed for a tight runoff in Alabama against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. Sessions lavished praise on the president during a watch party in Mobile on Tuesday night.
Sessions called the president a "man of action" Tuesday and questioned Tuberville’s loyalty to Trump.
"Where was he when President Trump needed him? What did he do for Trump? Never said a kind word about him that I can find, never gave a single penny of his millions to the Trump campaign. So one thing is clear: there’s no doubt where I stand on the issues, no doubt of my support for Donald Trump and his agenda."
On Wednesday morning, however, Trump blasted him on Twitter.
"This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!" Trump tweeted.
NBC News Exit Poll: Across Super Tuesday States, Sanders fared better among men
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has fallen behind in the race for delegates in the Democratic primary, fared better Tuesday among male voters, according to an NBC News Exit Poll.
Thirty-seven percent of men backed Sanders Tuesday compared to 30 percent who voted for former Vice President Joe Biden. Twenty-eight percent of women, meanwhile, backed Sanders while 35 percent supported Biden.
Women voters supported Warren and Biden at higher rates than men.
The gender gap was wider among more liberal voters, with 45 percent of liberal men backing Sanders compared to 23 percent for Biden. Liberal women, meanwhile, split at higher rates for Biden and Warren.
And there was a similar gap among younger primary voters with 59 percent of men under age 45 supporting Sanders and 48 percent of women in that age group backing him.
Biden still leads in delegate count, California and Maine too close to call
As of 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, Joe Biden was projected to win nine Super Tuesday primary contests, including Texas, while several races remained still too close to call.
Biden has picked up 56 delegates in the Lone Star State and Sanders has received 47 delegates, though it could take at least several days to fully distribute the delegates to the candidates.
California still remained too close to call, according to NBC News projections, where 415 delegates are at stake. Sanders, however, was leading Biden 33.1 percent to 24.2 percent with 51 percent of the vote in.
Maine's primary is also too close to call, though Biden was leading Sanders by the slightest margin, 33.9 percent to 32.9 percent.
In total, Biden's delegate count has surged to 453 so far and Sanders has received 373.
You wanna get to Joe, you have to go through Jill
Trump: Warren 'selfish' for staying in race, says she 'hurts Bernie badly'
President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday morning that Sen. Elizabeth Warren hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Massachusetts primary Tuesday night, which allowed former Vice President Joe Biden to prevail in the state.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said that it's "so selfish" for Warren to remain in the Democratic race.
As of 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, Warren has secured 39 delegates, according to the NBC News delegate count, compared to 453 for Biden and 373 for Sanders.