Minnesota chooses Biden in Super Tuesday Primary | Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota chooses Biden in Super Tuesday Primary

Catch the latest results and reporting from Minnesota's Super Tuesday election

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  • Biden claims momentum as Buttigieg drops out of race
    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden is fighting to unite the Democratic Party's moderate wing behind his candidacy after scoring a comeback victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary. That win has forced leading moderate rival Pete Buttigieg out of the race. Biden is vowing to improve his campaign operation, his fundraising haul and even his own performance as the race pushes toward Super Tuesday. Biden is warning of a "stark choice" between him and Bernie Sanders, while arguing that he is the candidate that can win up and down the ballot and in states beyond those voting on Tuesday.

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden fought to unite the Democratic Party's moderate wing behind his candidacy after scoring a comeback victory  in South Carolina's Democratic primary that forced leading moderate rival Pete Buttigieg out of the race on Sunday.
    Biden vowed to improve his campaign operation, his fundraising haul — and even his own performance — as the race pushes toward Super Tuesday. He warned of a "stark choice" between him and Sanders, while making the case he is the candidate that can win up and down the ballot and in states beyond those voting next week.
    "I feel good," Biden said on ABC's "This Week." "I can win and I can bring along Democratic victories." 
    Biden saturated the airwaves with back-to-back interviews after Saturday's win, which came on the strength of African American support and at a perilous moment in his 2020 bid. He needed an emphatic rebound after underwhelming performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. 
    The race now pivots to the 14 states from Maine to California that vote on Tuesday in what in effect will be a national primary in a race increasingly becoming a match-up between the two powerhouses representing divergent paths for the party. 
    Top rival Bernie Sanders led in fundraising hauls announced Sunday with an eye-popping $46.5 million  for February, his campaign said. The senator said it's not the total amount that should impress but the enthusiasm of working people  fueling his candidacy.
    "No campaign out there has a stronger grassroots movement than we do," Sanders said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "That's how you beat Trump."
    Pressure is mounting to prevent a prolonged battle that could stretch into summer as seven candidates remain in the Democrats' quest to find the strongest possible nominee to take on President Donald Trump in November. 
    The lagging candidates are being pushed to justify their campaigns or step aside so Biden can engage in a more direct match-up against Sanders, who heads into the coming week eager to surpass his rivals in amassing delegates for the nomination. 
    Buttigieg was the first to fall. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who put together a surprisingly strong presidential bid, informed his campaign Sunday evening that we was leaving the race. That's according to three people with knowledge of Buttigieg's decision who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
    There were few signs that anyone else was leaving the race. 
    Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next week, said Sunday he's not going anywhere before Tuesday's primaries. 
    "I'm optimistic," he told voters in Selma, Alabama, where many of the White House hopefuls gathered for ceremonies commemorating civil rights  heroism. He has spent more than $500 million advertising in the states set to vote this month.
    Bloomberg received a mixed reception as he spoke from the pulpit of Selma's Brown Chapel AME Church. Ten parishioners stood and turned their backs to the New York billionaire as he talked about his desire to increase black home ownership and wealth. That was after the pastor told the congregation that Bloomberg initially said he was too busy to attend because he had to "beat Donald Trump." Elizabeth Warren's team spoke brazenly of pushing into a floor battle at the Democratic National Convention this summer if no candidate emerges from primary season with a majority, as seems increasingly likely.
    "The convention in Milwaukee is the final play," wrote campaign manager Roger Lau in a memo.
    Warren brought in $29 million last month and Biden trailed with $18 million, but the former vice president said he raised $5 million in the last 24 hours, which is more than any previous day in his bumpy campaign.
    Biden declined to ask rivals to bow out. "It's not for me to tell another candidate to get out of the race," Biden said on "Fox News Sunday."
    Even with the victory, the shortcomings of Biden's campaign remain, including a lack of robust funding and organization that have drawn concern from top allies. He is barely running any television advertising in Super Tuesday states. 
    Bloomberg announced his own plan to deliver a three-minute prime-time address Sunday night on two television networks. He didn't say how much he paid for the air time, which is unprecedented in recent decades. And both Sanders and Bloomberg have many more staff and volunteers than Biden. 
    Leveling his own direct attack on Sanders, Biden declared, "The people aren't looking for revolution. They're looking for results."
    Biden won about three times as many delegates in South Carolina as Sanders, his nearest rival, giving a momentary respite to anxious Democrats who feared that the democratic socialist would finish February with four consecutive top finishes that would make it difficult for anyone to overtake him.
    The Associated Press declared Biden the winner just after the polls closed in South Carolina. The AP based the call on data from AP VoteCast, a survey of the electorate conducted for the AP by NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey showed a convincing win for Biden. 
    But Biden made an aggressive round of media appearances on Sunday in an effort to counter Bloomberg's massive spending. He's also working to secure endorsements from prominent Democrats and, shortly after the Saturday results were in, he got the backing of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
    Biden downplayed the lack of an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, whose name he often invokes on the campaign trail to voters nostalgic for his administration. Biden said on ABC he has to earn this "on my own."
    The South Carolina primary was the first major test of the candidates' appeal among black voters. That courtship continued Sunday in Selma. A number of states that vote on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, have substantial black populations. 
    One of the candidates who spent recent weeks wooing black voters, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, ended his campaign on Saturday after a disappointing third-place finish. He spent more than $24 million on television advertising in South Carolina -- more than all of his rivals combined -- but never found a clear lane in the crowded contest. 
    Trump weighed in on Twitter early Sunday, taunting Bloomberg — as he often does potential rivals. The president suggested the billionaire's advisers are simply on a "gravy train" leading him down a "dark and lonely path" without hopes of winning the nomination. 
    Aides to Bloomberg's campaign said earlier they still believe the former New York mayor can win in a handful of states that vote on Super Tuesday, including Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia and North Carolina.
    Through four contests, Sanders has a healthy, but shrinking, delegate lead. 
    The AP has allocated at least 58 delegates to Sanders, including two added Sunday as South Carolina's remaining votes dribbled in. Biden vaulted past Buttigieg into second place with at least 50 delegates — shrinking Sanders' lead from what had been 30 delegates before South Carolina to eight. Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar remain stuck at 26, eight and seven, respectively.
    Trump was paying close attention to the Democratic race.
    "How could you be easier to beat than Joe? That guy can't put two sentences together," Trump told attendees Saturday of the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington. "But you know he is more down the middle. Everyone knows he's not a communist and with Bernie there a real question about that."
    Biden won 64% of the votes cast by African Americans. He also did well with older voters, women, moderates and conservatives and regular churchgoers, according to AP VoteCast.
    Sanders earned the support of roughly 14% of African American voters, while billionaire businessman Tom Steyer won 15%.
    There was also evidence that Biden's status as Obama's two-term vice president helped him win over African Americans. 
    VoteCast found that 45% voters in South Carolina wanted to return to the politics of the past, compared with about a third in Iowa and New Hampshire. That includes the 52% of African American voters who said they want a Democratic presidential nominee who would emulate the Obama presidency.
    Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez cautioned Democrats that it's still early in their presidential primary.
    Speaking at a North Carolina Democratic Party fundraising gala, Perez noted that to win the nomination, a Democrat must win 1,991 delegates — and only a fraction of those have been allocated in the party's first four primaries. 
    "We have a long way to go," he said.
    ___
    Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Hope Yen, Brian Slodysko, Will Weissert and Seth Borenstein in Washington, Thomas Beaumont in Columbia, South Carolina, Alexandra Jaffe in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jay Reeves in Selma, Alabama, contributed to this report.
    ___
    This story has been corrected to show that a pastor in Selma, Alabama, told his congregation that Bloomberg initially declined to attend because he had to "beat" Trump, not "meet" Trump. 
     
    by Michael Olson, MPR News via MPR News 3/2/2020 12:15:39 AM
  • 2020 Watch: How long will Joe Biden's moment last?



    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrats' 2020 nomination fight is at a crossroads. Bernie Sanders remains the undisputed front-runner. And with Joe Biden's resounding victory in South Carolina, Biden can now make a credible case that he is the strongest Sanders alternative — especially now that Pete Buttigieg is out. But will the party's moderate wing unite behind him? The moderate lane is still somewhat crowded even after Buttigieg's departure. On the eve of Super Tuesday, we're about to learn whether this truly is a two- or three-person race or if Sanders will build an insurmountable lead. Either way, this could be headed to the convention.  
    ___
    Days to Super Tuesday: 1 
    Days to general election: 256
    ___
    THE NARRATIVE
    The Democrats' 2020 nomination fight is at a crossroads. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remains the front-runner. And with former Vice President Joe Biden's resounding victory in South Carolina, Biden can now make a credible case that he is the strongest Sanders alternative — especially now that Pete Buttigieg is out. But will the party's moderate wing unite behind him? The moderate lane is still somewhat crowded even after Buttigieg's departure given billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's looming presence. On the eve of Super Tuesday, we're about to learn whether this truly is a two- or three-person race or if Sanders will build an insurmountable delegate lead. Either way, this could be headed to the convention. 
    ___
    THE BIG QUESTIONS
    How long will Biden's moment last?

    Biden probably had the best night of his political career Saturday in South Carolina. He scored his first win of 2020, which actually marked his first primary victory over three presidential runs. Now comes the hard part. Biden has little organization, paid advertising or time to help turn the South Carolina landslide into an equally strong showing on Tuesday, when 14 states, one U.S. territory and Democrats abroad weigh in on the race. Also standing in his way: Bloomberg, who draws from a similar pool of voters and will be on the Super Tuesday ballot as well. 
    How will Bloomberg's billions stand up?

    At last count, Bloomberg had spent more than half a billion dollars on his 2020 campaign before appearing on a ballot. That investment will finally be tested on Tuesday, when a series of states representing one third of 2020's presidential delegates have the option of picking Bloomberg's name. That's even as some establishment Democrats are quietly calling for him to quit the race to allow for the anti-Sanders vote to consolidate behind Biden. 
    Where do Buttigieg's votes go?
    Buttigieg surprised everyone by suspending his campaign Sunday evening in the wake of Biden's South Carolina victory and his own dismal showing among voters of color. Buttigieg earned just 3% of the non-white vote, according to AP VoteCast. Conventional wisdom suggests that much of the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor's vote share would go to Biden, an ideological ally. But these things are never quite so simple. Buttigieg had definite overlap with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who drew from the same collection of educated, suburban white voters. And of course, fellow Midwesterner Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota who barely registered in South Carolina on Saturday, could pick up some votes. It's also fair to wonder how much support Buttigieg was poised to win as the race becomes nationalized. Polls suggested he may have struggled to hit the 15% threshold in several Super Tuesday states, so there may not be as much to go around as his rivals hoped.
    Who gets out next?
    Even after billionaire Tom Steyer and Buttigieg's weekend departure, there are still six Democrats in the race. And four of the six have yet to finish better than third place in any of the first four primary contests. For the record, that's Bloomberg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Klobuchar and Warren. History suggests most of these candidates would be out of the race by now. If the trend holds on Super Tuesday, we could see the field down to two or three by this time next week. 
    Will Sanders' Latino support put him over the top?
    California and Texas offer by far the largest trove of delegates. It just so happens that both states also feature large Latino populations. That's good news for Sanders. The question is how good. Tio Bernie (Uncle Bernie in Spanish) dominated the Nevada caucuses last week on the backs of the Hispanic vote. If Hispanic voters stick by Sanders on Tuesday in the two states that matter most, he could build an insurmountable delegate lead. 
    Will coronavirus hurt Trump?
    President Donald Trump insists that there's no reason to panic about the coronavirus, yet the public health threat — and the related Wall Street slump — creates a high-stakes leadership test just eight months before his reelection test. Few issues will matter more to voters this year than their health and the economy. That creates incredible pressure on Trump to get this situation right.
  • Where will Buttigieg supporters go?

    Matt Rourke/AP

    Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s exit could be a major boost for former Vice President Joe Biden, who is scrambling to catch up to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 14 states that will vote tomorrow, including the two biggest delegate prizes on the map: California and Texas.

    Biden, Buttigieg and other candidates have split the more moderate vote over the first four contests, often combining for a larger vote share than the more progressive Sanders.

    Buttigieg indicated in his speech that he’s stepping aside in order to avoid continuing splitting that vote. But the Sanders campaign is pushing back on the idea that Buttigieg’s exit hurts Sanders more than anyone else.

    “His supporters are going to be more up for grabs,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, told NPR. “I think people are far more complicated in their ideology than pundits like to suggest.”

    A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Sanders was the second choice of 9% of Buttigieg supporters, while 19% said Biden was their second-favorite candidate. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is staying in the race despite failing to finish higher than third place in any early contest, was the next pick of 26% of Buttigieg supporters.

    Super Tuesday awaits

    Scott Olson/Getty Images

    The Democratic presidential primary will look very different after tomorrow, maybe the most important day of the entire nominating process.

    Voters in 14 states and one territory, American Samoa, will head to the polls to hand out the largest delegate swath of any single day of the election season. More than a third of the total pledged Democratic delegates are up for grabs.

    Put another way: For all the attention paid to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, Super Tuesday will hand out three times as many delegates as those four states combined.

    It’s a big deal.

    And the reason rests heavily with two huge states voting tomorrow: California, which will give out 415 delegates, and Texas, which will hand out 228.

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been polling well in both places, but those surveys were conducted before former Vice President Joe Biden’s strong showing in South Carolina on Saturday (and before former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign).

    Biden garnered almost half of all the votes cast in South Carolina, and said yesterday that his campaign received an influx of fundraising as results came in.

    “Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead,” Biden thundered to a crowd in Columbia, S.C., Saturday night. “Now, thanks to all of you — the heart of the Democratic Party — we just won and we’ve won big because of you, and we are very much alive."

    Sanders also touted his fundraising numbers yesterday, saying his campaign raised $46.5 million in February.

    Demographics could play a role in how tomorrow plays out.

    Half of the states voting have significant shares of African American voters, including Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee, and three have Latino populations that make up more than 20% of their electorates. Biden won 60% of black voters in South Carolina, according to exit polls, whereas Sanders’ win in Nevada was boosted by strong support from Latino voters.

    Another thing to watch: the timing of results. As KQED’s Marisa Lagos reported, several Super Tuesday states rely heavily on mail-in ballots that take longer to count.

    "We in California believe a complete and accurate count is always better than a fast count," state Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks told Lagos. "And so I think everyone has to walk into Election Day understanding that there will be a significant portion of the vote that is not available, that is not accessible, that cannot be counted on election night."

    In 2018, it took weeks to call some congressional races in California and Arizona.

    In many of the states voting, news organizations like The Associated Press will be able to use exit poll data to make projections before the official results come in, but the exact number of delegates each candidate receives may not be known until days later.

    And that’s not a bad thing, voting experts say.

    "I think it’s important for us to understand that democracy takes time, and to criticize the process for not being fast enough is vastly and fundamentally different in my view from criticizing the process for not being accurate or not being secure," said Kathleen Hale, director of the Institute for Election Administration Research and Practice at Auburn University. "The integrity of elections and the accuracy of them and public trust in them to me trumps a hard and fast reporting deadline every time."

    The History Of Super Tuesday

    Anonymous/AP

    When 14 states and an American territory go to the ballot box tomorrow, it will be the most packed Super Tuesday since Feb. 5, 2008, when 24 states voted in the Democratic primary.

    What remains to be seen is whether Super Tuesday’s original mission — to elect a more moderate candidate — will bear out in 2020.

    The modern-day Super Tuesday was born in 1988, as reported by NPR’s Domenico Montanaro, when a dozen southern states banded together to consolidate their power as an answer to the nomination four years prior of Walter Mondale, a Minnesota senator who went on to be handily defeated in the general election.

    The plan backfired, as then-Tennessee Sen. Al Gore and the Rev. Jesse Jackson split most of the Southern states. That allowed Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis to become the nominee after winning the North, as well as Florida and Texas.

    This year, much of former Vice President Joe Biden’s hopes, and the hopes of his moderate allies, similarly rest on tomorrow’s results, when states like North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee cast ballots. The impact of those Southern states may be diluted somewhat this year, however, as this is the first year that both delegate-rich California and Texas will vote on the same Super Tuesday.

    Klobuchar is ending her presidential bid, will endorse Biden

    Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar ended her Democratic presidential campaign on Monday and endorse rival Joe Biden in an effort to unify moderate voters behind the former vice president’s White House bid.

    5 key questions ahead of critical Super Tuesday primaries


    DENVER (AP) — Tuesday is the biggest day of the primary calendar, when 14 states from the Atlantic to the Pacific vote on the Democratic presidential nominee. The roster includes the nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, and nearly one-third of all the delegates at July's Democratic National Convention are up for grabs.
    Here are some key questions ahead of Super Tuesday:
    Can Sanders Recapture The Narrative?

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has long promised that he could substantially expand the electorate beyond traditional Democratic voters, but that hasn't happened in the first four contests.

    Super Tuesday represents his biggest chance to prove his case. He is far better financed and organized than former Vice President Joe Biden, who trounced Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday.

    With five major candidates running, it's been impossible for anyone to claim a clear majority, but Sanders' durable base has given him a crucial plurality of the vote, and, more important, a small lead in delegates.

    Sanders needs as many delegates as possible because his opponents argue the convention itself should decide the nominee should no one secure a clear majority. Sanders argues that the candidate with the most votes should get the nomination — an easier case to make if he comes into the Democratic National Convention with a large plurality.

    Tuesday represents Sanders' best shot at building a durable advantage in the race. Because the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionately, once someone racks up an advantage in the delegate count, it's difficult to catch them. And after Tuesday, the terrain shifts to states that aren't as favorable to Sanders. 
    Can Biden emerge as the 'stop Sanders' candidate? 

    Biden dramatically under performed in Iowa and New Hampshire, part of a collapse among white voters that allowed Sanders to vault into the lead. But Biden regained his footing in South Carolina, propelled by the overwhelming support of black voters. That aided Biden's case that the candidate who prevails among these base voters will win the nomination.
    Biden's campaign hopes that allows him to vastly over perform his polls for Super Tuesday and consolidate the splintered anti-Sanders factions in the Democratic Party. 
    The hope in the former vice president's camp is that it becomes effectively a two-person race after Tuesday, which may give him an advantage in upcoming states like Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
    Which candidates can stay viable?

    Remember 15%. That's the share of votes a candidate has to get to win delegates in primary elections. With five Democrats left in the race, there's a real threat that only one or two will actually grab delegates, with the rest splitting the remaining vote in the low teens.
    The risks of that diminished with the exit of Pete Buttigieg from the race Sunday night and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Monday, but they certainly didn't go away. That would be a dream scenario for Sanders, who in some states could grab a far greater proportion of available delegates than his vote share would represent. Some polls have shown it as a distinct possibility in delegate-rich California. 

    Does Bloomberg's big bet pay off?
    Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg bet more than a half billion dollars on Super Tuesday, and we get to see if it was well spent.
    Bloomberg is a billionaire, and rather than competing in the first four primary states, he decided to spend a huge sum of money on advertisements and campaign organizations in the 14 states voting Tuesday, as well as on other ones voting in the coming weeks.
    But since he first appeared on the debate stage, his polls plummeted and now he runs the risk of falling into the sub-15% zone in a number of states. 
    Even if he doesn't, will Bloomberg's ultimate impact be to fragment the anti-Sanders vote further and help pave the way for the self-proclaimed democratic socialist whom he says he got in the race to stop?
    How does the California count effect the race?
    California is different. It's the biggest prize on the board Tuesday with more than 400 delegates at stake. But California has an unusual voting system that counts all ballots cast Tuesday, even if they were only put in a mailbox that day. It can take weeks to tally the entire vote.
    That could help or hurt Sanders. His campaign has been investing heavily in the state, trying to encourage his supporters to send in early ballots. It may be that the early ballots heavily favor him, and we discover only in the coming weeks that California voters didn't break so overwhelmingly for the Vermont senator.
    But Sanders' base includes young and Latino voters are more likely to vote at the last minute, so the opposite could happen — his people may still turn in their ballots at the last minute, and the initial returns could look grimmer for him than the final results. There's a good chance we won't know the final delegate disposition out of the state until April. How will that uncertainty affect the race in the weeks after Super Tuesday?
     
    -- Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press

    Klobuchar's exit shows a downside of early voting in Minnesota

    It’s likely that tens of thousands of Minnesotans have already cast ballots for presidential candidates whose campaigns are now defunct.
    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is rallying in Minnesota on the eve of Super Tuesday. Watch his rally live here:
    by jchoi via MPR News edited by Michael Olson, MPR News 3/3/2020 1:34:46 AM

    Trump lobs fresh barbs at Dems, rallies GOP faithful in NC

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump gloated about the stock market roaring back Monday, while throwing sharp barbs at the thinning Democratic presidential field on the eve of Super Tuesday's big round of primaries.
    Trump's spirits were high after the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared nearly 1,300 points, or 5%, clawing back from a seven-day rout in which it dropped more than 3,500 points. Stocks rose Monday on hopes that central banks will take action to shield the global economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
    "Do you think our opponents were thrilled when they saw the stock market today?" asked Trump, who has taken credit for a bull market throughout his three years in office.
    The president threw some of his hardest punches at former Vice President Joe Biden, who is coming off a decisive win in Saturday's South Carolina primary. Trump picked at Biden's propensity for rhetorical stumbles on the stump, suggesting it was a sign of senility.
    "I honestly don't think he knows what office he's running for," Trump said. He speculated that if Biden wins the White House, "he's not going to be running it. Other people are going to. They're going to put him into a home and other people are going to be running the country and they're going to be super left radical crazies."
    Trump allowed that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won finished at or near the top in three of the first four nominating contests, "does have some enthusiasm, but much less than we have."
    It's a crucial moment in the nomination battle: Biden is making the case that moderates need to consolidate behind him to stop Sanders, a Democratic socialist, and give Democrats a shot at beating Trump in November. 
    Two moderates have exited the race: former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who skipped the first four contests, will appear on the ballot for the first time Tuesday.
    Trump speculated there may have been a "quid pro quo" for Buttigieg — the offer of a job in the next Democratic administration for dropping out and endorsing Biden. 
    "Impeach them. They should be impeached," Trump said.
    Trump has offered daily commentary on the Democratic race, alternately boasting that no Democrat has a chance against him, ridiculing the top tier of candidates with derisive nicknames, and arguing that the party's establishment is trying to steal the nomination from Sanders.
    Sanders shot back at Trump on CNN Monday night, saying: "President Trump, stay out of the Democratic primary. Why don't you do your job for a change as president?"
    Earlier Monday, Trump said he had no qualms about attending a large stadium rally despite the coronavirus threat.
    "I think it's very safe," Trump said of campaign rallies, adding that the Democratic candidates are having plenty of rallies themselves.
    The threat of the virus didn't deter fans of Trump from attending Monday's rally in Charlotte, where people in the stands shared buckets of chicken fingers and dunked their hands into shared vats of popcorn while they awaited the president's arrival.
    The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 3,000 globally and upended life for many around the globe. In the U.S., the number of infections has surpassed 100, with six dead. Federal officials have not advised against large gatherings in the U.S., leaving that to local officials to address.
    North Carolina, a perennial swing state, is among the 14 states, one territory and voters abroad that will cast their ballots Tuesday, races that represent about a third of all delegates.
    Trump's rally in Charlotte follows his campaign's pattern of churning out robust counter-programming throughout the Democratic nominating process. In recent weeks, the president has held rallies in each of the four early voting states for the presidential nomination. 
    The president and the GOP are giving North Carolina, which has been decided by close margins over the last three presidential election cycles, plenty of attention.
    Republicans have picked Charlotte to host the Republican National Convention. Trump also visited Charlotte last month as part of a series of revitalization and "opportunity now" summits, programs he and administration officials have highlighted as he tries to chip away at the Democrats' electoral advantage in minority communities.
    -- Aamer Madhani, Associated Press
     
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