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How The End Of Klobuchar's Campaign And Other Endorsements Affect Biden

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK. As we approach Super Tuesday, there is a lot of campaign activity to keep track of. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. Buttigieg suspended his own presidential bid last night. Also today, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar plans to suspend her campaign, and she also endorsed Biden. They're set to appear together in Dallas.

NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid has been traveling with the Biden campaign. She joins us now.

Hey, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hey there.

CHANG: All right. Let's begin with this Buttigieg endorsement. What did he say tonight?

KHALID: Well, it just happened a few minutes ago here in Dallas. And he said that he was delighted to endorse Biden, in part because he feels like, you know, this is not just about winning the presidency; it's about winning these local Senate and House races. And he made some sort of, I think, coded references to Bernie Sanders, suggesting that being the loudest is not always about being right. He also mentioned that he feels like Joe Biden is just a particularly decent person. He viewed that, he says, when he was run against him, but also when he saw Joe Biden come to his own hometown of South Bend while he was vice president.

CHANG: OK. Just to step back for a moment, though, I mean, we see endorsements from Buttigieg, from Klobuchar, along with an endorsement from former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which also came today for Biden. How big a deal do you think are all these endorsements put together today?

KHALID: So, Ailsa, I mean, it's tricky. I mean, for Joe Biden, this is fantastic news, right? He had a pretty rough opening to this primary season, finishing in fourth place, in fifth place. He's - I would say - had a remarkably strong last 72 hours not only with that resounding victory in South Carolina, but then just getting a slew of endorsements. And, really, what we've seen is we've seen the moderate candidates in this race decide that they were going to coalesce around one single alternative to Bernie Sanders, and they decided that that best alternative is Joe Biden.

You know, on the other hand, though, Bernie Sanders has run as the anti-establishment figure. And in some ways, not receiving endorsements kind of bolsters his theory of the case, which is that the Democratic establishment is not for him and they have never supported him. And certainly, you know, he's not always been a part of - a longtime member of the Democratic Party.

CHANG: Right. So if you're on the Sanders campaign right now, I guess how might you be feeling seeing all these endorsements coming in for Biden?

KHALID: I mean, that's a tricky thing to say. Would they have wanted an endorsement from someone like Pete Buttigieg, who Bernie Sanders has really ideologically differed with substantively on the debate stage? You know, both Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg have suggested that Sanders' "Medicare for All" vision was just too radical. It was not in sync with what a vast majority of Americans wanted, in their view.

And, really, I think if you're the Sanders campaign, you have fought against the establishment. And most of the endorsements that we've seen today, while really good for Joe Biden in terms of, you know, consolidating the traditional Democratic establishment support, you know, someone like Bernie Sanders - I would argue it makes his theory stronger as well.

So I really would say, to me, the clarifying vision will be when we actually start counting votes on Super Tuesday, when 14 states will vote.

CHANG: Right. And speaking of Super Tuesday, I mean, what do you think the effect will be tomorrow on Super Tuesday and going forward of both Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar not being in this race anymore?

KHALID: I mean, look; Joe Biden certainly has much to gain, specifically because we see these two candidates who've dropped out of the race go ahead and line themselves up behind Joe Biden. In fact, Buttigieg tonight here said that he was endorsing Biden and he hopes that his supporters would join him in that.

I think what's most interesting, Ailsa, is that when we looked at some of the polls earlier in the week, last week, it looked like Joe Biden was really on the cusp of being viable in some of these states. That means he needed - needs to get 15% in order to accrue any delegates. So with Klobuchar and Buttigieg no longer in the race at all, it seems likely that he'll get at least a moderate boost. And at least that way, he'll be viable and be able to get delegates. And to me, that is the biggest difference - is that, really, we'll likely see many more places where Biden, across the board, is able to recruit delegates tomorrow.

CHANG: All right. That is NPR's Asma Khalid.

Thank you so much, Asma.

KHALID: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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