COLUMBIA, S.C. — Pete Buttigieg will have a Sunday morning visit with former President Jimmy Carter the day after the South Carolina primary, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor’s campaign announced Friday night.
Mr. Buttigieg will have breakfast with Mr. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, on Sunday in their hometown Plains, Ga. The 39th president teaches a Sunday school class that has become a regular stop for presidential candidates and political tourists alike.
Mr. Buttigieg has already visited Mr. Carter, so has Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In recent elections, Mr. Carter has not endorsed in Democratic primaries until after Georgia’s primary, which will take place on March 24 this year.
Mr. Carter’s views of the 2020 race are known in part. In September he said he didn’t think he could perform the duties of the president if he was in his late 70s, the age of Mr. Sanders, Mr. Biden and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
But in May 2016, Mr. Carter revealed that he voted for Mr. Sanders over Hillary Clinton in that year’s primary contest.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tom Steyer’s final get-out-the-vote rally Friday night was a star-studded event at Allen University, the historically black college here.
Bianca Chardei, a surrogate for Mr. Steyer on the campaign trial who was once a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” led off the ceremonies. DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Philadelphia-born hip-hop artist who once played Will Smith’s best friend on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” was among the promised performers, as was the gospel star Yolanda Adams, who took the stage after a set by the rapper Juvenile.
Before singing “America, The Beautiful,” Ms. Adams urged the crowd to vote. “This is one of those elections and primaries that make a difference. Because what’s going on in our country is not good. They’ve got us scared with this coronavirus. They’ve got us scared with a lot of things. But you can’t walk in fear. Because if you walk in fear, you’re paralyzed,” she said.
State Senator John Scott, speaking on behalf of Mr. Steyer before his arrival, urged the 200 or so attendees — many of them Allen University students — to turn out to the polls on Saturday. “I want you to remember this: It’s in your hands. For those of you who have not voted, you need to please consider Tom, because Tom is the real deal.” Mr. Scott emphasized Mr. Steyer’s call to fund historically black colleges with $125 billion over 10 years, more than any other candidate has proposed.
Tadejah Petty, 23, of Gaffney, S.C., said she planned to vote for Mr. Steyer in Saturday’s primary. “He seems very legit talking about what he wants to do for America,” Ms. Petty said.
The music was the big draw for some students, who said they could not vote in the South Carolina primary. “I’m a music major,” said Jamari Pratt of Camden, N.J., 19, who said he had been lured to the event by the entertainers and had never heard of Mr. Steyer.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — On the night before the South Carolina primary, Joseph R. Biden Jr. laid out the stakes of Saturday’s contest for his campaign.
“You send me out of here with a victory that’s significant, then I think I’m going to be the next nominee.”
Left unsaid: A loss here, in a state Mr. Biden and his allies have long considered his electoral firewall, would threaten to end his candidacy.
“You hold in your hands the future of the Democratic Party,” he said at a rally here at Wofford College that had featured live music, supporters tossing Biden T-shirts into the bleachers and a few people dancing the “Electric Slide.”
In his remarks, Mr. Biden reminded South Carolina of its role in the political trajectories of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
“I’ve worked really hard to try to earn the support of South Carolinians, I’ve been coming here for a long time,” said Mr. Biden, who has often vacationed here. But, he promised, “I’m here, heart and soul, to try to earn your support, your vote. I take nothing for granted.”
He also worked in some swipes at one of his chief rivals, Senator Bernie Sanders, arguing that it was possible to empower the middle class and improve the economy “without being socialists. Without going and having a revolution.”
The crowd laughed and applauded.
As he did earlier in the day, Mr. Biden also discussed the threat of coronavirus, arguing, “let science dictate the outcome,” and slamming President Trump’s stewardship of the issue.
“This may be the one place, and a concrete example, of where the reputation for a president to tell the truth is of great consequence,” he said. “When he tells you, ‘don’t worry,’ or ‘worry,’ how many of you are going to go to the bank” on that claim, he asked.
AIKEN, S.C. — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, her voice raspy, talked about her two cent wealth tax to a crowd inside a small, former bank building on a stretch of highway between Aiken and North Augusta, S.C.
She asked the 80-some people — a fraction of whom were African-American — who among them owned a home. Nearly everyone raised their hands. “You know what, you’ve been paying a wealth tax, it’s called a property tax,” Ms. Warren said. “All I’m saying is for the billionaires, it ought to include their portfolio, the diamonds, the Rembrandt, the yacht.”
In her 12-minute speech at the event, which was garnished with a spread of fried chicken, a vegetable tray, cookies, fruit, potato salad and soft drinks, she said, “I want to talk about just one plan,” she said, “People who have fortunes greater than $50 million can pitch in 2 cents.”
Continuing her attack on billionaires, Ms. Warren said, “One of them cried on TV. It was sad. So sad. Others have run for president. Think about that. Thought it would be cheaper than paying a wealth tax.”
LaTashia Middleton burst into tears shortly after Ms. Warren stepped off the riser.
“It just makes me emotional to see a woman fighting for your rights, to see a woman talking about me,” Ms. Middleton said. “I can hear me in that speech.”
Ms. Middleton, 43, was a hair stylist for 19 years until she suffered five strokes. She moved from Missouri to South Carolina three years ago and said she didn’t make up her mind about her choice for president until last month.
“I was going to go to a country that didn’t have a president,” she said.
Jim Bryan-Kanda, 42, survived a brain tumor three years ago. Between that and their two daughters, both younger than 3, he and his wife, Dorothy, 43, heard Ms. Warren speaking directly to their circumstances, especially in the candidate’s proposal for universal child care.
Mrs. Bryan-Kanda is a stay-at-home mother, while her husband commutes 45 minutes each way to his job at a bicycle company in Lexington, S.C. “We run up against a one-income versus two-income parent home,” she said. “We’re right on that line of me returning to the work force versus the cost of day care.”
NASHVILLE — About a half-hour into her speech here, Senator Amy Klobuchar explained to the audience why she was about 40 minutes late, though the excuse was wrapped into a policy proposal, of course.
“We have huge issues, and here in Nashville I know, with transportation,” she said, referencing the traffic that chokes this city around this time every Friday night, before calling for improved federal investments in public transportation. “I know, it was so hard getting here.”
Indeed, Ms. Klobuchar packed up from South Carolina early, having left on Wednesday with no plans to campaign again in the state before polls close there on Saturday night. With little chance of breaking into delegate viability in South Carolina with the former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading in the state, Ms. Klobuchar instead chose to start her Super Tuesday campaign through the South, without the “First in the South” state.
On Friday, she began in Virginia before traveling down to Nashville, her second campaign event in the Music City. Saturday starts with a rally in Knoxville, Tenn., three hours away.
As she often does, Ms. Klobuchar pitched her campaign to both the “fired up Democratic base” and “independents and moderate Republicans,” but in Nashville, a liberal city in a state that President Trump won by more than 26 points, it carries extra meaning.
If the senator from Minnesota is to make a dent in the delegate count on Super Tuesday, she will need a strong showing in some of the Southern states that have open primaries.
Despite lagging in the delegate count, she pitched her campaign here as the one with momentum. Ms. Klobuchar argued that because of the “oddness of the caucuses” she actually has the third most total votes in the field.
“We have been really, really beating the odds,” she said.
Senator Bernie Sanders at a breakfast event at Shady Grove Methodist Church on Friday in St. George, S.C.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina Democrats are debating the impact that Tom Steyer, the California billionaire, has had on the run-up to this year’s primary, which takes place on Saturday. His campaign’s lavish spending across the state and its hiring of black-owned vendors and minority staff members have led to accusations of vote-buying — to say nothing of soul-searching among Democrats who worry that apparent conflicts of interest and unseemly financial arrangements are tarnishing the state party’s image.
There have also been allegations, both public and private, that the Steyer campaign crossed ethical lines in its use of money by placing state lawmakers who endorsed him, or their family members, on his payroll.
‘Steyered’ in South Carolina
Robin Ross dressed her 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Ace, in a Bloomberg T-shirt before the former New York mayor’s rally in Memphis.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Besides being his 48th birthday, Friday also turned out to be Anthony Martin’s lucky day.
A forklift operator, Mr. Martin had the urge to stop by Palmetto Pig, a popular barbecue restaurant. When he arrived, the former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer was at the restaurant, talking to supporters.
“I was so glad he was here because I like his approach,” Mr. Martin said. “From Day 1, I told my wife that I’m voting for Tom. I just got this gut feeling that he’s really sincere about what he’s saying.”
Mr. Steyer’s appeal, Mr. Martin said, stems partly from the fact that he is giving much of his fortune to charity.
“Anytime you take your money and give it back to the people, I feel that’s the candidate who is thinking of my interests,” he said. “If you have if somebody in the White House who cares about you, it makes you feel great to be an American.”
“When Obama was in the White House, I was proud to be an American,” Mr. Martin added. “Now it seems like this president we have makes us look like a joke.”
Another diner, Jack Swerling, a lawyer, had already cast his vote — for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Swerling, 74, goes way back with Mr. Biden, having met him several times.
“I’ve been a Biden man since 1988,” Mr. Swerling said. Still, he said he could see Mr. Steyer doing a great job.
“I think he’s got a lot of energy and I think he’s got a lot of good ideas,” Mr. Swerling said. “He certainly could be somebody I would vote for if he got the nomination.”
GREENVILLE, S.C. — When her name rang out over the loudspeakers, Senator Elizabeth Warren ran toward the stage from the back of a crowded room, grabbed a cordless mic and threw her hands up like an old-school rocker addressing the next stop on an endless tour: “Hello Greenville!” Dolly Parton’s working-women anthem “9 to 5” played over the speakers.
From there, those who had crowded into a smallish event space in this Upstate South Carolina city witnessed a short, powerful burst of The Warren Style in American Politics.
Her theme was fighting, as it must be. Ms. Warren has finished no higher than third place in the first three Democratic nominating contests, and the front page of the Greenville paper Friday had a story about a Monmouth University Poll that put her in fourth place in the Palmetto State, with 8 percent support.
“Fighting back is an act of patriotism!” she told the whooping crowd, as her speech of less than 20 minutes spun up to a dramatic conclusion.
“You know, everybody here should remember, we fought back against a king to build this nation,” she said. “We fought back against the scourge of slavery to preserve this union. We fought back against the Great Depression to rebuild our economy, and we fought back against the rise of fascism to protect our democracy. Americans! Americans are at their best when they see a problem, they call it out and they fight back!”
The event drew a crowd of about 200 people, most of them white, and many of them women.
They figured that Ms. Warren would probably be overshadowed in tomorrow’s primary vote by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is leading in statewide polling and has counted on black voters here as his firewall.
But there is fire for Ms. Warren, too.
Susan Clark, 63, a recently retired therapist, liked the fact that Ms. Warren’s policies appeared detailed and tailored to the problems of the moment, particularly the matter of wealth inequality.
“She would really be ready on Day 1 to clean up the mess we have now,” Ms. Clark said. Ms. Warren’s lackluster performance in the first three nominating contests, she said, was due not so much to her message, but to the fact that the Democratic field was so crowded.
Suzy Hart, 64, was standing nearby. She is also a Warren supporter, but diagnosed the senator’s problems a little differently: The media, she said, was focused on the horse race, and not the differences in policy, which was causing Ms. Warren’s ideas to be lost in the shuffle.
Ms. Hart, an artist, said she had been a fan of Ms. Warren’s since she began, years ago, to stand up to predatory lenders. A while back, Ms. Hart made the mistake of taking out a $10,000 predatory loan, and it took her years to pay it back, plus roughly $30,000 in interest.
These were the kinds of issues, she said, that had regular people struggling and that Ms. Warren was seeking to address.
Much of Ms. Warren’s speech, which was well-received, focused on her wealth tax, which would target fortunes of more than 50 million and bring in almost $4 trillion, according to her campaign.
Ms. Warren explained the plan with a cheerful demeanor, deploying a familiar line: “Your first $50 million is free and clear,” she said, earning a laugh. Then she laid out the people and programs who could be helped: police officers and firefighters, students, daycare workers, parents.
The talk about the fighting came soon after that. Then someone with the campaign asked the whole room to scooch in for a selfie.
Michael R. Bloomberg’s record on policing continues to be a liability in the Democratic presidential race, and in the past few days, attention has turned to the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In an interview with “PBS NewsHour” on Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg defended the surveillance program as a necessary response to the Sept. 11 attacks, and to an environment in which law enforcement did not know if or when another attack might be coming.
The hijackers “happened to be one religion, and if they’d been another religion, we would have done the same thing,” he said. “It does not, incidentally, mean that all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorists are Muslim. But the people that flew those airplanes came from the Middle East, and some of the imams were urging more of the same.”
He also suggested, incorrectly, that the program had been relatively small and that the courts had endorsed it. “We sent some officers into some mosques to listen to the sermon that the imam gave,” he said. “The courts ruled it was exactly within the law.”
The program, revealed in 2011 in a series of reports by The Associated Press, was not limited to mosques, and the courts did not ultimately uphold it.
Under Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral administration, plainclothes officers eavesdropped on conversations in coffee shops and restaurants, documenting the political views of ordinary Americans about foreign policy and the State of the Union address. The police surveilled stores and schools, kept tabs on which shop owners and clientele appeared “devout,” recorded videos and license plate numbers, and mapped Muslim neighborhoods and mosques in Newark.
“The idea that the N.Y.P.D. surveilled Muslims in just a few mosques with court approval is a fantasy,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement.
While a federal district judge dismissed a challenge to the program in 2014, an appeals court restored the challenge the following year. After Mr. Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, took office, the city settled three lawsuits. While the city did not admit wrongdoing, the courts also did not rule — as Mr. Bloomberg suggested they had — that the program was constitutional.
The N.Y.P.D. has since restored some of the oversight that Mr. Bloomberg’s administration removed, and the number of intelligence investigations fell after those changes were made.
Advocates also criticized Mr. Bloomberg for defending the program while apologizing for his past defenses of stop-and-frisk.
“It is pure hypocrisy to issue an apology for illegal racial profiling through stop-and-frisk while simultaneously affirming massive religious and nationality-based surveillance against Muslims,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “Mayor Bloomberg’s latest defense of the N.Y.P.D.’s Demographics Unit demonstrates his continued belief that certain populations are inherently suspicious.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign declined to comment.
Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON — One of the country’s largest unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, is encouraging its local unions to survey their members to determine presidential endorsements on a local level, the union said on Friday.
Like many other major unions, the U.F.C.W. has held off choosing a candidate to support in the 2020 race. It is sticking to that position for now, though the union could still make an endorsement in the future. In the last presidential race, the union endorsed Hillary Clinton in January 2016, before the Iowa caucuses.
In a statement on Friday, Marc Perrone, the union’s international president, did not recommend any particular candidate for local unions to consider.
“With Super Tuesday approaching, and as part of our effort to make sure the concerns of our members are heard, we recommend to each local union that they survey their members to determine which 2020 presidential candidate they will endorse as the strongest champion for hardworking men and women,” Mr. Perrone said.
“We believe this decision sends a clear message to every presidential candidate that they must put the interests of workers and hard-working U.F.C.W. members first.”
Another major union, the American Federation of Teachers, which has also refrained from making an endorsement, recently encouraged its state and local affiliates to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Siebel Newsom — the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, and the state’s first partner in official parlance — announced on Friday that she was endorsing Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the presidential primary.
“Now more than ever, women need a champion in the White House — someone who will stand up for working moms, fight for our seats at the tables of power, protect our health care and reproductive choice, and lift up the underappreciated and often invisible contributions that women make daily to society,” Ms. Siebel Newsom said in a statement. “It’s long past time for the smartest person in the room — who also just happens to be a woman — to become president of the United States.”
Mr. Newsom had previously backed Senator Kamala Harris of California, whom he has known for decades, in the presidential race, but he has stayed neutral since she dropped out last year.
Millions of California voters have already cast their ballot ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Several state polls show Ms. Warren in second place behind Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Ms. Siebel Newsom, who runs the Office of the First Partner as a part of Mr. Newsom’s executive team, is a documentary filmmaker and activist who created a nonprofit group called the Representation Project to challenge gender stereotypes in mass media.
She framed her endorsement from the perspective of a mother of four young children.
“I worry deeply about the future of our country, and going down a path of deepening inequality, division, and hate. I want my sons and my daughters to grow up in a more just, decent, and inclusive America,” she wrote. “Warren understands that inequality does not affect all communities equally, and that women — especially women of color — most often bear the brunt of its effects.”
Ms. Warren said in a statement that she was “grateful” for Ms. Siebel Newsom’s support. “Women must have a seat at the tables of power, whether that’s in government, business or anywhere in society,” she said. “Jennifer’s efforts to break the mold and reshape the First Partner’s office to advocate for equal pay and women’s representation will empower women and girls not just in California but around the country and the world.”
Ms. Warren has attracted other high-profile endorsements from California women, including Representative Katie Porter of Orange County, who is one of the co-chairs of her campaign and is hosting several get-out-the-vote events in the state this weekend.
NASHVILLE — Stopping short of calling it a “must win,” Senator Amy Klobuchar was plenty bullish on her Super Tuesday prospects in Minnesota, her home state.
“I should win my state,” she said in a Thursday night town hall on Fox News. “I think I’m 10 points ahead there.”
With 75 delegates up for grabs, Minnesota is only the sixth-largest prize on a packed Super Tuesday. Just the same, it’s essential that Ms. Klobuchar carry the state if she is going to progress in her campaign: Her central argument has been her strength in the Midwest, and her ability to win both Republican and Democratic districts in her home state.
But Senator Bernie Sanders, who carried Minnesota in the 2016 Democratic primary over Hillary Clinton, has put Minnesota in his campaign’s cross hairs. A recent poll showed him with 23 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters in the state, trailing Ms. Klobuchar by six percentage points.
He’s spent $594,000 on ads in the state (though some of that was in the Rochester media market that is important to the Iowa caucuses), and announced a rally and concert in Minneapolis on Monday night with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, which is likely to draw a large crowd in his last event before Super Tuesday.
Ms. Klobuchar, by comparison, has spent $500,000 on ads in Minnesota. Of course, she is much better known in her own state than Mr. Sanders, and ranks as the seventh-most-popular home state senator in the country, according to Morning Consult.
Nonetheless, on Friday, Ms. Klobuchar’s campaign ratcheted up its efforts in her home state.
Rather than go head-to-head with Mr. Sanders’s rally backed by a platinum-selling rock band, Ms. Klobuchar announced a Sunday night rally in nearby St. Louis Park.
Beginning Saturday, the campaign will also dispatch six Minnesota elected officials and surrogates on a statewide, get-out-the-vote bus tour in support of Ms. Klobuchar.
And, after already securing the endorsements of 70 state and local officials in Minnesota, including Gov. Tim Walz and Senator Tina Smith, the campaign announced on Friday the endorsement of 12 more elected officials from the state.
Each week, we’re bringing you the latest political data and analysis to track how the eight Democratic presidential candidates are doing and who is breaking out of the pack.
Bernie Sanders has established himself as the clear Democratic front-runner, and the runner-up behind him is — well, that depends how you look at it. Mr. Sanders has leaped well ahead in our national polling average, with Joseph R. Biden Jr., Elizabeth Warren and Michael R. Bloomberg all jostling for second place in the mid-teens.
So, who has the most convincing claim to the silver medal, at the moment? You could argue it is Mr. Biden, who is a hair ahead of Ms. Warren and Mr. Bloomberg in our polling average, and is seen as a strong favorite in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, thanks to his solid base of support among African-Americans. But Mr. Biden’s numbers have also plunged over the last month and his campaign is strapped for cash, which may make it harder for him to reverse his downward trend.
You could argue, too, that Ms. Warren is the most convincing alternative to Mr. Sanders. Her campaign appears to be raising money at a rapid clip and her numbers have ticked up, however slightly, since her dominant debate showing last week in Nevada, giving her a new chance to reassemble the national progressive coalition she began to build last fall. But time and geography are against her: It is not clear that Ms. Warren is positioned to win any state on Super Tuesday next week, perhaps aside from her own Massachusetts.
Mr. Bloomberg, too, has a real claim on second place. His rise in the polls has been the quickest of any candidate and he is already competing aggressively across a national primary map. Money, of course, is no object for Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign; if he wants to battle Mr. Sanders all the way to the convention, no one can stop him from doing so. But Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign also has the potential to be a house of cards, stood up by paid advertising and not much else.
The Super Tuesday contests may clarify which of those three candidates has the strongest chance against Mr. Sanders going forward — or they may not, leaving Mr. Sanders comfortably atop a divided field. Notably, neither Pete Buttigieg nor Amy Klobuchar appears well positioned for a long battle, at least judging by national polls or by the fragmentary fund-raising information we have. Despite their success in Iowa and New Hampshire, both are now struggling to maintain traction across a much larger political map.
MEMPHIS — Michael R. Bloomberg went straight at one of President Trump’s biggest vulnerabilities, the performance of the stock market, saying on Friday that the steep sell-off over the last several days was a direct result of the president’s failure to reassure the country that he can lead.
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of several hundred in Memphis, Mr. Bloomberg said investors were “pricing the management incompetence” of Mr. Trump into trading, which has officially pushed the market into a correction — a drop of 10 percent or more from its most recent peak.
“This week the stock market has plunged, partly out of fear but also because investors have no confidence that the president is capable of managing a crisis,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
Mr. Bloomberg, a former Wall Street trader, has seized on the global panic over the coronavirus to highlight what he and his advisers believe is the most appealing part of his background: his experience as an executive who led New York City for 12 years and as a businessman who founded a financial data and media company that grew to some 20,000 employees.
SUMTER, S.C. — As Joseph R. Biden Jr. wound down his first campaign event on Friday, Marybeth Berry, 44, a professor, had a personal question for the former vice president.
“What I’m wondering is, What drives you?” she asked. “What is your fire? You see Bernie. You see Elizabeth Warren. You see that fire.”
Mr. Biden replied instantly: “Decency and honor.” The audience applauded.
Then, he swiped at the two Democratic candidates she had mentioned as he expanded his answer: “The fact that I’m not screaming like Bernie and waving my arms — or like Elizabeth — is not a lack of fire,” he said.
Mr. Biden went on to tell a story about how his upbringing had made him want to combat abuses of power.
His father, who worked at a car dealership, quit his job after the owner sought to humiliate employees by dropping silver dollars on the dance floor at a holiday party and encouraged them to scramble to pick them up, Mr. Biden said.
“That’s what motivates me,” he said. “The abuse of power. And this president abuses power.”
His voice rising, he delivered another oblique jab at Mr. Sanders, who he has said hasn’t been straightforward about the costs of “Medicare for all,” his signature health proposal: “What matters is authenticity. Say what you’re going to do. Be honest with the American people.”
“Don’t tell people you’re for something then be against it,” he said. “Level with people and tell them how you’re going to do it.”
After, Ms. Berry called Mr. Biden’s response persuasive. Asked by a reporter whether he was now her first choice, she paused.
“Yes, I think so,” she said, adding that she was “still thinking about Sanders,” but that he is more difficult “to talk to, because everything’s such a rally for him.”
As for Mr. Biden, she said, “I thought it was good, I thought it was passionate.” She added: “It was what I wanted to hear in terms of the integrity and the fire.”
She said that with Mr. Biden, “sometimes it doesn’t seem as sharp, and so I needed to see that articulation. That was important to me.”
With just 3 percent of delegates awarded, and still days to go until Super Tuesday, the 2020 presidential primary has already passed $1 billion in spending on advertising.
Powered mostly by two self-funding billionaires, the 2020 election is now the quickest ever to reach the billion-dollar milestone, meaning more money has been spent on television, radio and digital advertising than the gross domestic product of some small countries.
Michael R. Bloomberg accounts for more than half of the total spending. Since he announced his candidacy in November, Mr. Bloomberg has spent $537 million on advertising. The other self-funding billionaire in the race, Tom Steyer, has spent $190 million.
No other candidate has spent more than $50 million, though Bernie Sanders, fueled by an enormous small-dollar donor base, has spent $49 million on advertising, including $15.5 million on digital ads.
Though the 2020 Democratic race hasn’t featured super PACs with as much funding as those that defined the 2016 Republican primary, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Steyer have escalated spending on advertising to a degree never before seen in such a short period of time.
It is also especially rare to see an incumbent spend heavily during a primary, but President Trump’s campaign and his joint committee with the Republican National Committee have spent $60 million, with $42 million of that funding a vast and aggressive digital advertising campaign.
The Trump ads, motivated mostly by his impeachment, were heavily focused on fighting the politically damaging headlines out of Washington. Television ads and an extensive Facebook campaign sought to paint the impeachment as politically motivated. As a result, Mr. Trump’s re-election effort has spent more than every candidate aside from Mr. Steyer and Mr. Bloomberg.
Bernie Sanders is looking strong in California and Texas, the two largest states voting on Super Tuesday, according to several polls released today.
CNN polled both states and found an especially large lead for Mr. Sanders in California, where he had 35 percent support. No other candidate was above the 15 percent threshold needed to earn delegates, but several were within the margin of error of it: Elizabeth Warren was at 14 percent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. at 13 and Michael R. Bloomberg at 12, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.
The results were similar to those of a Los Angeles Times poll released earlier today, except Ms. Warren was above the 15 percent threshold in that one.
In Texas, CNN found that 29 percent of likely Democratic primary voters supported Mr. Sanders, compared with 20 percent for Mr. Biden, 18 for Mr. Bloomberg and 15 for Ms. Warren. The margin of error was 6 percentage points.
A new Univision poll shows a similar picture in Texas: 26 percent for Mr. Sanders, 20 percent each for Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg, and 11 percent for Ms. Warren, with a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.
Mr. Sanders’s numbers there are driven by his strong support among Latino voters: 31 percent, compared with 23 percent for Mr. Bloomberg, 19 for Mr. Biden and 8 for Ms. Warren. The margin of error for the Latino subset of the poll is 5.5 percentage points.
No other candidate is in double digits in the CNN or Univision polls.
ST. GEORGE, S.C. — Bernie Sanders laced into President Trump on Friday for visiting South Carolina as his administration struggles to respond to the coronavirus crisis, calling him “pathetic” and “petty” and accusing him of trying to disrupt the Democratic primary instead of focusing on bigger issues.
“Think about what it says about this guy,” Mr. Sanders said at a breakfast event in St. George.
“Everybody knows there is a coronavirus spreading all over the world,” he said. “Very frightening, stock market is tanking. You would think that you’d have a president of the United States leading — working with scientists all over the world, bringing people together to figure out how we’re going to deal with this crisis. He is here in South Carolina, he doesn’t even have any opposition in the Republican primary; why is he here? He’s here to try to disrupt the Democratic primary. How pathetic and how petty can you be?”
He continued: “Hey, Mr. Trump, why don’t you worry about the coronavirus rather than disrupting the Democratic primary right here in South Carolina?”
Mr. Sanders, speaking to a predominantly white crowd, also mocked billionaires, saying they were so worried about his candidacy that they were “literally crying” on television.
Most candidates “go to rich people’s homes and they sit down and hear all of the problems that the billionaires have,” he said, “and some of these guys are on TV and they’re literally crying about what Bernie said.”
CHARLESTON, S.C. — At his first campaign stop on the eve of the South Carolina primary, in which he is widely expected to not just lose but finish in the mid- to low-single digits, Pete Buttigieg was asked by a voter how he deals with personal failure.
Three and a half weeks removed from an Iowa caucus triumph that had been challenged and wasn’t reaffirmed by the Iowa Democratic Party until Thursday night, Mr. Buttigieg was in a reflective mood.
“I’ve learned the most on the political side of this from the things that haven’t gone my way,” he told a crowd of a few hundred people gathered on the campus of the Citadel, a military college.
Mr. Buttigieg told a story of his first political campaign, a 2010 contest against the incumbent Indiana state treasurer, Richard Mourdock, a Republican.
“I was 27, 28 years old, nobody had heard of me, most people never heard of the office I was running for,” he said. “I was going around county fairs, sticking out my hand. I’m an introvert, and I’m interrupting people at county fairs while they’re enjoying their ice cream cone, their pork tenderloin, and I’m telling them why they ought to vote for me for state treasurer.”
Mr. Buttigieg said the lessons from that race, which he lost by 25 percentage points, had stuck with him during his tenure as mayor and his time on the presidential campaign trail.
“I got my head handed to me,” he said. “I got absolutely clobbered, and I would say I learned more about politics, and about running for office, and about extending yourself, and about keeping your head in the things that are important, in that election when I got crushed than I have in any of the times I succeeded since.”
One of the main sources of power in the South Carolina primary is the black church. Candidates flock to church and lean on pastors throughout the state for political advice, creating relationships that have sometimes been mutually beneficial.
But as church populations have grown older, and younger black voters have been attracted to secular protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, the church’s grip on black political organizing has been tested.
Take a look inside the churches.
SUMTER, S.C. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday urged calm in the face of coronavirus, even as he bashed President Trump’s response to the illness so far.
“It’s not a time to panic about coronavirus, but coronavirus is a serious public health challenge,” Mr. Biden, the former vice president, said at a campaign event Friday morning.
He noted his work with former President Barack Obama confronting other major crises.
“It’s bad enough that we have a president who can’t tell the truth,” he said of Mr. Trump.
Blasting the White House effort to control messaging on the virus, he continued, “Now the president won’t let other people,” he said, getting drowned out by applause.
“It’s no surprise the president who thinks climate change is a hoax also thinks that coronavirus is a conspiracy,” Mr. Biden added.
His remarks come on the eve of the primary in South Carolina, a must-win state for Mr. Biden, an early front-runner who went on to lose the first three contests. But other moments of great uncertainty and anxiety have at times, over the course of the Democratic primary, played to Mr. Biden’s advantage, such as when the United States faced escalating tensions with Iran.
One thing to watch: whether Mr. Biden continues to speak to fears of coronavirus as he seeks to assert the mantle as the steady, experienced hand in the race.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee in 2016, declared his support for Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday, providing the former vice president a coveted endorsement in a hotly contested Super Tuesday state.
“It is sad to have a president who no one holds up as a role model for America’s kids,” Mr. Kaine said. “By contrast, Joe Biden has exemplary heart, character and experience.”
A former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Kaine is the sort of establishment-aligned leader Mr. Biden has been trying to win over as he seeks to consolidate support against Bernie Sanders.
And Mr. Kaine’s support comes at a pivotal time for Mr. Biden. Should he win the South Carolina primary on Saturday, he may enjoy a burst of momentum going into the Super Tuesday states, where one of his moderate rivals, Michael R. Bloomberg, has been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars.
Most important for Mr. Biden’s coalition are the Southern states voting on Tuesday, where African-Americans make up a large share of the electorate. If Mr. Biden can fend off Mr. Bloomberg in the South, he could seek to assert himself as the dominant alternative to Mr. Sanders.
And of those Southern states voting on Tuesday, Virginia could prove to be one of the more challenging contests for Mr. Biden.
That’s in part because it includes many wealthier white voters, who have been more enthusiastic about his rivals. But it’s also because he has spent little time there, while Mr. Bloomberg and some of the other Democratic candidates have held events in the state’s voter-rich cities and suburbs. Mr. Biden is holding a single rally in Virginia before the vote, on Sunday in Norfolk.
But the support of Mr. Kaine, and other prominent Democrats who are expected to rally behind Mr. Biden this weekend, may help him in the final days before voting. There is absentee voting but no early voting in Virginia.
In his statement, Mr. Kaine, who is close to former President Barack Obama, highlighted Mr. Biden’s work in the administration. And he went a step further.
A Kansas City-bred Democrat, Mr. Kaine said of Mr. Biden: “He reminds me of Harry S. Truman, an outwardly ordinary man whose work ethic, faith in the goodness of everyday Americans and love of country made him a great president.”
A new poll of California voters shows Bernie Sanders having opened a wide lead in the state with just days to go before the delegate-rich primary on Super Tuesday, March 3.
The poll, conducted for The Los Angeles Times by the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, shows Mr. Sanders with 34 percent support, double that of Elizabeth Warren, who finished second with the backing of 17 percent of likely voters.
No other candidate in the field earned 15 percent support — the threshold in congressional districts and statewide that a candidate must meet to earn a share of the state’s 415 delegates. Michael R. Bloomberg finished with 12 percent support, Pete Buttigieg with 11 percent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. with 8 percent and Amy Klobuchar with 6 percent.
The survey of more than 3,000 voters likely to participate in the Democratic primary was conducted from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, according to The Los Angeles Times.
About a third of all available national pledged delegates will be allocated on Super Tuesday; combined with delegates from the four early-voting states, almost 40 percent of delegates will be spoken for by the time the contests are completed.
With so many delegates at stake in California at such a critical stage of the race, the primary there is likely to play a meaningful role. A commanding win by Mr. Sanders would help him amass a delegate lead that could prove difficult for other candidates to cut into, and a strong showing for Ms. Warren could boost her campaign — especially if other candidates fail to meet the 15 percent threshold.
Mr. Bloomberg, meanwhile, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertisements but has not competed in the four early state contests. He is banking on a successful Super Tuesday to propel his campaign forward.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Bernie Sanders campaign always knew the superdelegates would be against them.
“I need you to see this from The New York Times,” Faiz Shakir, the Sanders campaign manager, wrote in a fund-raising solicitation Friday morning, citing but not linking to — bad manners, Mr. Shakir — our article about how superdelegates at the convention oppose Mr. Sanders’s nomination. “We knew this was coming. As we win more delegates, keep winning the popular vote, and do better in the polls, the establishment wants to stop us.”
Since our article published online Thursday morning, rival candidates have weighed in. Amy Klobuchar said during a Fox News town hall that a plurality of delegates shouldn’t be enough to be handed the party’s presidential nomination. Michael R. Bloomberg said he would stay in the campaign until someone had clinched.
Sanders partisans are digging into the position he first articulated during the debate in Las Vegas last week: Whoever has the most delegates at the convention should be the nominee, regardless of whether that candidate has the majority required by Democratic Party rules.
“Bernie was clear about this at a recent debate: the person who is winning the most votes, and the most delegates, should be the Democratic nominee,” Mr. Shakir wrote. “Our job is quite simple: get a huge number of contributions so that we can win the most votes and get the most delegates. Let’s have no question that Bernie will win.”
SUMTER, S.C. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. admitted on Friday that he had not been arrested in South Africa, despite claiming multiple times on the campaign trail in recent weeks that he had been while trying to see the anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
“I guess I wasn’t arrested,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” “I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go.”
In the Friday interview, Mr. Biden stressed his work on anti-apartheid measures and described being separated at the airport from African-American colleagues on a congressional delegation to South Africa, though a separation does not constitute an arrest.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to go in that door that says white only,’” Mr. Biden said, describing a confrontation with the police. “‘I’m going with them.’ They said, ‘You’re not, you can’t move, you can’t go with them,’ and they, and they kept me there.”
He added: “What they finally did, they said, OK, they’re not going to make the congressional delegation go through the black door, they’re not going to make me go through the white door.”
In recent weeks, as he campaigned in South Carolina and Nevada, Mr. Biden told a very different story.
“This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid,” Mr. Biden said at a campaign event in South Carolina this month. “I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him.”
The United States ambassador to the United Nations in the late 1970s, Andrew Young, told The New York Times last week, “No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either.”
Mr. Biden has also said on the campaign trail that after Mr. Mandela was released, “He came to Washington and came to my office. He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’ I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?’ He said, ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.’”
On Friday, he offered a different account of that conversation.
“When Nelson Mandela was freed and came to the United States, he came to my office. He was one of the most incredible men I ever met,” Mr. Biden said. “He sat down in my office, thanked me, thanked me for trying to, all the work I did on apartheid.”