Both Biden, Pence attend New York 9/11 memorial, Trump at Pennsylvania crash site

By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence, both masked, joined New York’s somber 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, while President Donald Trump marked it at the Pennsylvania crash site of a hijacked jet.

Biden and Pence bumped elbows in greeting, one of the many ways the anniversary ceremony has been changed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 191,000 people in the United States including 32,700 in New York state.

About 200 people including Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined the New York ceremony, where family members read the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed when two hijacked jets slammed into the Twin Towers, with a third hitting the Pentagon and a fourth taken down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when its passengers rose up against the al Qaeda hijackers.

A similar memorial ceremony was being held at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, where people sat socially distanced on folding chairs near the site that Flight 93 went down.

“The only thing that stood between the enemy and a deadly strike at the heart of American democracy was the courage and resolve of 40 men and women – the amazing passengers and crew of Flight 93,” Trump told the crowd.

Biden is also due to visit Shanksville separately later in the day. Prior to boarding a plane from his Delaware home, Biden pledged not to make any news during the solemn day.

“I’m not going to talk about anything other than 9/11. We took all our advertising down. It’s a solemn day, and that’s how we’re going to keep it, okay?,” Biden said.

‘IT NEVER GOES AWAY’

The sun struggled to pierce hazy clouds in New York, a contrast with the 2001 morning of the attacks, which people present that day remember for its piercing, clear skies.

At the memorial site, Biden spoke to 90-year-old Maria Fisher, who lost her son in the 9/11 attacks. He told her he lost his son as well, and lamented, “It never goes away, does it?”

He handed her the rose he was holding.

Asked what today means for him, Biden replied, “It means I remember all my friends that I lost.”

The ruins of the shattered World Trade Center have since been replaced by a glittering $25 billion complex that includes three skyscrapers, a museum and the memorial with the goal that it would be again be an international hub of commerce.

But the pandemic has rendered it somewhat of a small ghost town, adding an eerie quality to the commemoration of the attack, with office workers staying home and tourists avoiding the memorial site.

The virus also altered the memorial event, with family members pre-recording the traditional reading of the names of the victims and the crowds at the site severely restricted.

Amanda Barreto, 27, of Teaneck, New Jersey, lost her godmother and aunt in the attacks. Biden came up to her and offered his condolences.

“He knows what it means to lose someone. He wanted me to stay strong,” Barreto said afterward. “And he’s so sorry for my loss.”

The Shanksville event was also closed to the public because of coronavirus concerns, the National Park Service said.

Flight 93, bound for San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, never hit its intended target — the four hijackers were believed to be planning to crash it into either the U.S. Capitol or the White House — after passengers stormed the cockpit and attempted to regain control of the aircraft.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York and Jeff Mason in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, additional reporting by John Whitesides, Joseph Ax and Jarrett Renshaw; Writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Diane Craft)

Former prosecutor Harris to target Trump’s virus response in U.S. campaign push

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – Kamala Harris joins presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on the campaign trail for the second time in two days on Thursday in an appearance that will focus on hammering President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden and Harris will receive a briefing on COVID-19 from public health experts and then deliver speeches in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

The remarks will illustrate the campaign’s role for Harris, the first Black woman and Asian-American on a major-party U.S. presidential ticket.

Rather than being tied to any specific target demographic groups, Harris will have three roles to play as a campaign spokeswoman: energizing people to vote and volunteer, outlining Biden’s policy vision and prosecuting the case against Trump, according to a person familiar with the strategy.

Trump long played down the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 165,000 Americans – the highest death toll in the world – and thrown tens of millions out of work.

The former prosecutor is expected to focus on Trump’s response to the crisis, which has been an effective political argument against Trump for Biden so far.

Biden, after introducing Harris’ personal story on Wednesday in their first joint appearance since picking his running mate, quickly moved to talking about the urgency of the moment.

Trump, for his part, on Twitter Thursday accused the news media of giving Harris “a free pass despite her Radical Left failures and very poor run in the Democrat Primary.”

Harris made her debut as Biden’s running mate on Wednesday in Delaware, delivering a rebuke of Trump’s leadership and highlighting the historic significance of her new role, while helping the campaign collect $26 million in its best day of fundraising yet.

In the coming weeks, Harris will do events in person and virtually, including several jointly with Biden, much like some of the socially distanced campaign stops and speeches Biden has given in recent weeks in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The campaign is still unsure of whether they will be able to campaign as normal, saying they intend to follow local public health guidance that continues to discourage large gatherings as the virus has killed more than 160,000 Americans and negotiations stalled over a government package to manage the economic fallout.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski)

Exclusive: Harris could help Biden with women, young voters, maybe some Republicans too – Reuters/Ipsos poll

By Chris Kahn

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approve of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris as their party’s vice presidential nominee, and she is more popular than presidential candidate Joe Biden among women, young voters and some Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

The Aug. 11-12 public opinion survey also found that 60% of Americans, including 87% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans, considered the selection of Harris – the first Black woman and Asian American nominated for vice presidency – to be a “major milestone” for the United States.

The U.S. Senator from California is viewed about as favorably or better than Biden in most major demographic groups, the poll showed, highlighting her potential to help the former vice president expand his support in November’s election.

Harris, 55, is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and made her own bid for the White House. She was a former prosecutor and state attorney general in California, and became only the second Black female U.S. senator in history when elected in 2016.

The poll showed Biden’s lead over Republican President Donald Trump was effectively unchanged after he announced his running mate choice, increasing by 1 percentage point among all Americans to an 8-point advantage – well within the poll’s credibility interval – when compared with a similar poll that ran on Monday and Tuesday.

Forty-six percent of U.S. adults said they would vote for a Biden/Harris ticket, while 38% would vote for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. A similar poll that ran on Monday and Tuesday showed that 44% would vote for Biden while 37% would back Trump.

The latest poll also found that 56% of Americans have a favorable impression of Harris, which is about the same as the number who favor Biden. Forty-two percent of U.S. adults say they have a favorable view of Trump and 47% said the same of Pence.

Among women, 60% said they have a favorable view of Harris, compared with 53% who felt the same way about Biden. Women are the dominant force in American elections: they make up a bigger proportion of the U.S. electorate than men, and a surge in support for Democrats among white, college-educated women helped the party retake the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

Biden already has an advantage over Trump among women overall, but he has not improved his standing among black women in recent months, while white women without college degrees still largely favor Trump.

EDGE WITH REPUBLICANS

In addition, about 25% of Republicans said they had a favorable view of Harris and approve of her choice as Biden’s running mate. Only about 20% of Republicans said they have a similarly favorable view of Biden.

In a close election, peeling off even a small number of voters from the Republican Party could make a difference to the Democrats, political analysts said.

Harris also is a little more popular among American adults who are younger than 35 years old: 62% said they view Harris favorably, while 60% said the same of Biden.

Public opinion could change and Trump’s re-election campaign sharpens its criticism of the Democratic challengers. Within minutes of Biden’s announcement on Tuesday, Trump had called Harris “nasty,” “horrible” and “disrespectful,” while his campaign painted her as an extremist who would yank the moderate Biden to the left.

In choosing Harris, Biden heeded calls from Black leaders and activists to choose a woman of color as a running mate and avoid a repeat of 2016, when the first decline of Black voter turnout in 20 years helped Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Black Americans – and Black women particularly – are the most loyal Democratic constituencies.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,000 adults, including 389 Republicans and 419 Democrats. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Chris Kahn, Editing by Soyoung Kim and Grant McCool)

Trump signs coronavirus relief orders after talks with Congress break down

By Jeff Mason

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump signed executive orders on Saturday partly restoring enhanced unemployment payments to the tens of millions of Americans who lost jobs in the coronavirus pandemic, as the United States marked a grim milestone of 5 million cases.

Negotiations broke down this week between the White House and top Democrats in Congress over how best to help Americans cope with the heavy human and economic toll of the crisis, which has killed more than 160,000 people across the country.

Trump said the orders would provide an extra $400 per week in unemployment payments, less than the $600 per week passed earlier in the crisis. Some of the measures were likely to face legal challenges, as the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over federal spending.

“This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them an incentive to go back to work,” the Republican president said of the lower payments. He said 25% of it would be paid by states, whose budgets have been hard hit by the crisis.

Republicans have argued that higher payments were a disincentive for unemployed Americans to try to return to work, though economists, including Federal Reserve officials, disputed that assertion.

Trump’s move to take relief measures out of the hands of Congress drew immediate criticism from some Democrats.

“Donald Trump is trying to distract from his failure to extend the $600 federal boost for 30 million unemployed workers by issuing illegal executive orders,” said Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “This scheme is a classic Donald Trump con: playacting at leadership while robbing people of the support they desperately need.”

The Democratic-majority House of Representatives passed a coronavirus support package in May which the Republican-led Senate ignored.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called the orders a “series of half-baked measures” and accused Trump of putting Social Security “at grave risk” by delaying the collection of payroll taxes that pay for the program.

Trump also said he was suspending collection of payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and other federal programs, an idea that he has repeatedly raised but has been rejected by both parties in Congress. He said the suspension would apply to people making less than $100,000 per year.

His orders would also stop evictions from rental housing that has federal financial backing and extend zero percent interest on federally financed student loans.

Trump initially played down the disease’s threat and has drawn criticism for inconsistent messages on public health steps such as social distancing and masks.

He spoke to reporters on Saturday at his New Jersey golf club, in a room that featured a crowd of cheering supporters.

FAR APART

Nearly two weeks of talks between White House officials and congressional Democrats ended on Friday with the two sides still about $2 trillion apart.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had pushed to extend the enhanced unemployment payments, which expired at the end of July, at the previous rate of $600 as well as to provide more financial support for city and state governments battered by the crisis.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday offered to reduce the $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid package that the House passed in May by nearly a third if Republicans would agree to more than double their $1 trillion counteroffer.

White House negotiators Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rejected the offer.

The $1 trillion package that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled late last month ran into immediate opposition from his own party, with as many as 20 of the Senate’s 53 Republicans expected to oppose it.

Trump did not rule out a return to negotiations with Congress.

“I’m not saying they’re not going to come back and negotiate,” he said on Saturday. “Hopefully, we can do something with them at a later date.”

Democrats have already warned that such executive orders are legally dubious and would likely be challenged in court, but a court fight could take months.

Trump has managed to sidestep Congress on spending before, declaring a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border to shift billions of dollars from the defense budget to pay for a wall he promised during his 2016 election campaign.

Congress passed legislation to stop him, but there were too few votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to override his veto – a scenario that would likely play out again with less than 90 days to go before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, additional reporting by Raphael Satter, Brad Brooks, and Rich McKay; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Diane Craft, Daniel Wallis, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall)

Canada to impose retaliatory tariffs on C$3.6 billion worth of U.S. goods

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will slap retaliatory tariffs on C$3.6 billion ($2.7 billion) worth of U.S. aluminum products after the United States said it would impose punitive measures on Canadian aluminum imports, a senior official said on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference the countermeasures would be put in place by Sept. 16 to allow consultations with industry.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to reimpose 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products to protect U.S. industry from a “surge” in imports. Canada denies any impropriety.

“A trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs – it will only hurt an economic recovery on both sides of the border. However, this is what the U.S. administration has chosen to do,” said Freeland.

“We do not escalate and we do not back down,” she said later, describing the U.S. decision as unjust and absurd.

The Canadian list of goods that might be subject to tariffs include aluminum bars, plates, household articles, refrigerators, bicycles and washing machines.

It is the second time in two years that Canada has struck back at Trump over trade. In 2018, Ottawa slapped tariffs on C$16.6 billion ($12.5 billion) worth of American goods ranging from bourbon to ketchup after Washington imposed sanctions on Canadian aluminum and steel.

Canadian officials may be calculating that the measures will be short-lived. An Ottawa source briefed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said Canadian officials are increasingly sure that Trump will lose the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump acted just weeks after a new continental trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico took effect. The North American economy is highly integrated and Canada sends 75% of all its goods exports to the United States.

The premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, said earlier on Friday that he had encouraged Freeland to impose tariffs on as many U.S. goods as possible.

“For the President to come and attack us during these times, during a pandemic when we need everyone’s support, is totally unacceptable,” Doug Ford told a news conference.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

Twitter hack raises concern in Washington

(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers sought an explanation from Twitter Inc after hackers gained access to the social media company’s internal systems to hijack accounts of several politicians, billionaires, celebrities and companies.

The company’s shares fell nearly 3% in early trade on Thursday after hackers infiltrated the twitter handles of U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former U.S. President Barack Obama and billionaire Elon Musk, among others, to solicit digital currency.

Twitter said hackers had targeted employees with access to its internal systems and “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.”

In an extraordinary step, it temporarily prevented many verified accounts from publishing messages as it investigated the breach.

The hijacked accounts tweeted out messages telling users to send bitcoin and their money would be doubled. Publicly available blockchain records show that the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a tech critic, sent a letter to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, urging him to get in touch with the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to secure the site.

“A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security,” Hawley told Dorsey in the letter, demanding more answers on the impact and scope of the breach.

Frank Pallone, a Democrat who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees a sizable portion of U.S. tech policy, said in a tweet the company “needs to explain how all of these prominent accounts were hacked.”

Dorsey said in a tweet on Wednesday that it was a “tough day” for everyone at Twitter and pledged to share “everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened”.

Other high profile accounts that were hacked included rapper Kanye West, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, and the corporate accounts for Uber and Apple Inc.

Some analysts said hacks of this nature will not have any material impact on Twitter’s financials, others expect it to spend more on platform security to address such incidents.

The hack “certainly doesn’t help,” Joe Wittine, Edgewater Research analyst, told Reuters in an email. It will pose more of a “reputational risk”, versus “material near-term risk to advertising revenues.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Bernstein analyst Mark Shmulik said in the long-term, “maybe if a few of the ‘blue check mark’ accounts decide to leave the platform that could have a minor impact on usage.”

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera, Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Nandita Bose in Washington DC; Editing by Bernard Orr and Peter Graff)

Warren ends presidential bid, leaving Biden, Sanders to fight for Democratic voters

By Joseph Ax and Amanda Becker

(Reuters) – Elizabeth Warren ended her presidential campaign on Thursday, bowing to the reality that the race for the Democratic nomination has become a two-way battle between former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S Senator Bernie Sanders.

Warren, a liberal senator who won plaudits for her command of policy details, finished well behind the two front-runners on Tuesday in 14 states, including her home state of Massachusetts, leaving her path to the nomination virtually nonexistent.

Her exit ensures the contest is now a two-man race between moderate former Vice President Joe Biden and liberal U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who in many ways represent the main wings of the Democratic Party.

Warren, who still commands a loyal base of supporters, did not immediately endorse either of her rivals. When asked about an endorsement at a news conference on Thursday outside her home, she said she would decide whether to make one later.

“We don’t have to decide right this minute,” she said.

Warren also spoke bluntly about her failure to find a middle ground between the party’s dueling factions.

“I was told when I first got into this, there are two lanes,” she said. “I thought it was possible that wasn’t the case, and there was more room to run a different kind of campaign. Apparently that wasn’t the case.”

Warren’s departure leaves what had once been the most diverse field of candidates in U.S. history as a contest primarily between two white men with decades in office each nearing 80 years old.

Her relationship with Sanders may have been strained in January, when she accused him of calling her a liar on national television after he denied telling her in 2018 that a woman could not beat Republican President Donald Trump.

‘VICIOUS CYCLE’ ON ELECTABILITY

The vague notion of “electability,” a frequent buzzword on the campaign trail as Democrats prioritized defeating Trump over all other concerns, seemed to hurt Warren and non-white male candidates.

“The general narrative was that the women might be too risky, and I think there were people who heard that enough that it started showing up in polling … and becomes a vicious cycle that was hard to break out of,” said Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications at EMILY’s List, which works to elect women supporting abortion rights and had endorsed Warren.

Asked on Thursday about the role that gender played in the campaign, Warren said it was a tricky issue for female candidates to address.

“That is the trap question for every woman. If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!'” she said, in front of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “If you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a zillion women say, ‘What planet do you live on?'”

Warren said one of the hardest parts of leaving the campaign was knowing that millions of little girls would have to wait at least four more years before seeing a woman in the White House.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard remains in the race, but has repeatedly failed to win even 1% of the vote in primaries.

Meanwhile, Biden and Sanders continued to step up attacks on each other following Biden’s unexpectedly strong performance on Super Tuesday earlier this week.

The back-and-forth between the two contenders signaled a bruising battle to come as the race turns next to six states stretching from Mississippi to Washington state, which vote on March 10.

Sanders blamed the “establishment” and corporate interests for his losses in 10 of the 14 states that voted on Tuesday, a charge Biden called “ridiculous.”

“You got beaten by overwhelming support I have from the African-American community, Bernie,” Biden told NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. “You got beaten because of suburban women, Bernie. You got beaten because of the middle-class, hardworking folks out there, Bernie.”

Biden received more support from black voters and women, particularly in suburban areas, exit polls found. Those two groups make up a substantial part of the Democratic electorate and were credited with delivering the party big wins during the 2018 midterm congressional elections.

Biden also pointed out that Sanders has raised more campaign cash, responding to criticism that his moderate rival is collecting money from corporate interests. Aside from candidates who have self-funded their campaigns, Sanders has boasted the largest cash hauls during this election. At the end of January, Sanders had raised $134 million while Biden raised $70 million.

Like Warren, Sanders has refused to hold fundraisers and instead relies on online donations. Biden, who has seen his online giving spike in recent days, regularly holds high-dollar fundraising events.

In addition to Mississippi and Washington state, voters in Michigan, Missouri, and Idaho on Tuesday. North Dakota will hold caucuses.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington and Joseph Ax in New York, additional reporting by Ginger Gibson in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

Biden has strong Super Tuesday showing, Sanders leads in California

By John Whitesides and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A resurgent Joe Biden rode a wave of momentum to win at least eight states on Super Tuesday and Bernie Sanders was leading in the biggest race in California, setting up a one-on-one battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a surprisingly strong showing, Biden rolled to victories across the South, Midwest and New England on the biggest day of voting in the Democratic campaign. Americans in 14 states cast ballots for a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

“For those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” said Biden, the former vice president who had performed poorly in the first three nominating contests but broke through with a win in South Carolina.

“We are very much alive,” he told roaring supporters in Los Angeles.

Sanders, the one-time front-runner who had hoped to take a big step toward the nomination on Tuesday, won Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont, Edison Research said.

Fox News and AP projected Sanders won California, whose 415 delegates represent the largest haul in the nominating contest. But Edison Research and other networks held off declaring a winner as results trickled in.

With overwhelming support from African American, moderate and older voters, Biden swept to wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

The second biggest prize Texas and Maine were too close to call. Sanders was slightly trailing Biden in Texas, a state he had heavily invested in and had hoped to win given its sizeable Latino population.

It was a spectacular turn of events for Biden, whose campaign was on life support after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. Until a week ago he trailed Sanders in most state and national polls.

Biden’s blowout win in South Carolina on Saturday provided a burst of new momentum, fueling a wave of endorsements from elected Democratic officials and former presidential rivals including Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota before voting began on Super Tuesday.

ONE THIRD UP FOR GRABS

More than one-third of the delegates who will pick the eventual nominee at a July convention were up for grabs in the primaries on Tuesday, which provided some clarity at last in a muddled race for the White House.

The results also left Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who spent more than half a billion dollars on advertising, largely out of the running, with his only victory coming in the U.S. territory of American Samoa.

Bloomberg campaign officials said he would reassess whether to stay in the race on Wednesday, but they said that did not mean he would drop out.

Biden was hoping to stay within reach of Sanders in delegates, giving him a chance to catch up as the race moved on. But after Tuesday, he led Sanders in delegates for the day 241 to 174, with hundreds more to be allocated.

Overall, Biden leads Sanders in delegates 294 to 234.

Without naming him, Sanders took direct aim at Biden during a rally with supporters in Vermont, criticizing his 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq and his support for global trade deals that Sanders opposed.

“We’re going to win the Democratic nomination and we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country,” Sanders said.

Biden accomplished his main Super Tuesday goal of muscling aside Bloomberg and consolidating support from moderates to turn the race into a one-on-one contest against Sanders.

BIDEN POPULAR WITH BLACK VOTERSBiden repeated his strong performance with black voters in South Carolina on Saturday. Edison Research exit polls showed Biden winning large majorities of African-American voters in the South.

His showing was further fueled by strong support among a older people, college graduates and those who considered themselves liberal or moderate.

Sanders countered with a strong showing among Latinos, young people and white men, helping him to wins in the West.

The results were disappointing for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who finished well behind Sanders and Biden in most states and trailed them in her home state of Massachusetts.

Bloomberg was a wild card heading into the voting, as he joined the competition for the first time. He was winning more than 15% of the vote, enough to pick up some delegates, in Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Utah, California and Arkansas.

The moderate Bloomberg skipped the first four contests and bombarded Super Tuesday and later voting states with ads, but saw his poll numbers slip after coming under fire during Democratic debates over past comments criticized as sexist and a policing policy he employed as New York’s mayor seen as racially discriminatory.

Biden is hoping to build a bridge between progressive Democrats’ desire for big structural change and more moderate Democrats yearning for a candidate who will be able to win over enough independents and Republicans to oust Trump.

That effort gained fresh momentum on the eve of Tuesday’s voting as moderates Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsed Biden after withdrawing from the race.

Biden pulled off his victories despite being vastly outspent on ads by Bloomberg, who had spent $377 million on ads by Feb. 23, and Sanders, who spent $20 million. Biden spent $4.7 million during the same period, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks ad spending and content.

The pace of the Democratic race begins to accelerate after Super Tuesday, with 11 more states voting by the end of March. By then, nearly two-thirds of the delegates will have been allotted.

The next contests, on March 10, will be in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state.

(Reporting by John Whitesides, Jarrett Renshaw, Ginger Gibson, Doina Chiacu, Sharon Bernstein, Trevor Hunnicutt and Zachary Fagenson; Writing by Paul Simao and John Whitesides; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Peter Cooney and Howard Goller)

Democrats turn to Nevada, South Carolina after Sanders’ New Hampshire win

By John Whitesides and Amanda Becker

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democrats vying for the right to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump turned their focus to Nevada and South Carolina after Bernie Sanders solidified his front-runner status with a narrow victory in New Hampshire, with Pete Buttigieg close behind him.

While Sanders, a U.S. senator from neighboring Vermont, and Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, finished first and second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary respectively, the contest also showed the growing appeal of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who placed third after surging over the past few days.

Two Democrats whose fortunes have been fading – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden – limped out of New Hampshire, finishing fourth and fifth respectively amid fresh questions about the viability of their candidacies.

New Hampshire was the second contest in the state-by-state battle to pick a Democratic nominee to face Trump, a Republican, in the Nov. 3 election. Sanders and Buttigieg finished in a virtual tie in the first contest last week in Iowa and won an equal number of delegates – who formally vote at the party’s convention in July to select a nominee – in New Hampshire, according to early projections.

The campaign’s focus now begins to shift to states more demographically diverse than the largely white and rural kickoff states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The next contest is on Feb. 22 in Nevada, where more than a quarter of the residents are Latino, followed a week later by South Carolina, where about a fourth are African-American.

After that, 14 states, including California and Texas, vote in the March 3 contests known as Super Tuesday, which will also be the first time voters see the name of billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the Democratic presidential ballot.

Democrats must decide whether their best choice to challenge Trump would be a moderate like Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Biden or Bloomberg – or a candidate further to the left like Sanders or Warren.

Only one of the candidates has public events planned on Wednesday. Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul, plans rallies in Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee.

With an eye toward a potential general election campaign against Trump, Bloomberg on Wednesday also announced the opening of a campaign office in New Hampshire headed by Democratic strategist Liz Purdy.

Bloomberg also picked up endorsements from three black members of the U.S. House of Representatives after he came under scrutiny over his past support for a policing tactic known as stop and frisk, which disproportionately affected racial minorities.

In New Hampshire, Sanders had 26% of the vote and Buttigieg had 24%. Klobuchar had 20%, Warren 9% and Biden 8%.

Buttigieg on Wednesday said his strong results in Iowa and New Hampshire showed he had momentum going forward, “settling the questions of whether we could build a campaign across age groups and different kinds of communities.”

Buttigieg, who would be the first openly gay U.S. president if elected, still faces questions about what opinion polls show is his weakness with black voters, one of the most loyal and vital Democratic voting blocs.

‘A WHOLE NEW LOOK’

Asked about how he could gain the confidence of racial minority voters, Buttigieg told MSNBC he was focused on economic empowerment and suggested he had learned lessons, sometimes “the hard way,” as mayor of South Bend. He pointed to a plan he released last summer aimed at fighting racism.

“I think we’re getting a whole new look from black and Latino voters who have so much riding on making sure that we defeat Donald Trump, because they are among those with most to lose if they have to endure yet another term of this president,” he told MSNBC.

In a sign of the growing rivalry between Sanders, 78, and Buttigieg, 38, supporters for the senator booed and chanted “Wall Street Pete!” when Buttigieg’s post-primary speech was shown on screens.

“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, late on Tuesday.

The Democratic field shrank to nine main candidates after businessman Andrew Yang and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, who had trailed in the polls and performed poorly on Tuesday, dropped out.

Biden, 77, who was once the front-runner in the Democratic race, stumbled to his second consecutive poor finish after placing fourth in Iowa. He is certain to face growing questions about his ability to consolidate moderate support against a surging Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

Klobuchar’s campaign said it was spending more than $1 million on ads in Nevada.

“We have beaten the odds every step of the way,” Klobuchar, 59, told supporters in Concord. “Because of you, we are taking this campaign to Nevada. We are going to South Carolina. And we are taking this message of unity to the country.”

 

(Reporting by John Whitesides, James Oliphant, Simon Lewis, Michael Martina and Amanda Becker in New Hampshire, additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Scott Malone, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)

New Hampshire votes as Democratic presidential hopefuls seek momentum

By Simon Lewis and Amanda Becker

SALEM/ROCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire voters were casting ballots on Tuesday in the second contest in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg jostling to remain atop a crowded field after strong performances last week in Iowa.

A parade of Democrats seeking the right to face President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election made final pitches to voters in the small New England state that often plays an outsized role is determining party presidential picks.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has jumped to third place in opinion polls in New Hampshire after a debate last Friday, is looking to gain momentum from the primary while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to avoid another disappointment after a fourth-place showing in Iowa. Senator Elizabeth Warren, third in Iowa, rounds out the top of the slate.

New Hampshire Democrats were hoping for smoother sailing after embarrassing technical problems in the Iowa caucuses delayed the release of those results for days.

The New Hampshire ballot has a list of 33 names, including candidates who dropped out weeks ago, but will not include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who entered the contest later and will face his first electoral test early next month.

Recent state polls showed Sanders leading the field, followed by Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

Supporters of Buttigieg, 38, greeted him at a Manchester polling place before dawn, waving blue and yellow “Pete 2020” campaign signs and chanting “President Pete.”

“It feels good out here,” Buttigieg said, smiling as reporters asked how he thought he would fare in the primary.

Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont in the Senate, won the New Hampshire primary handily over rival Hillary Clinton in his unsuccessful bid for the party’s nomination four years ago, securing 60% of the vote. In a crowded field this time, it is highly unlikely any of the candidates will draw that level of support by the voters.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, addressed a young crowd of more than 7,500 people on Monday night at the University of New Hampshire’s campus at Durham.

“This turnout tells me why we’re going to win here in New Hampshire, why we’re going to win the Democratic nomination and why we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of America, Donald Trump,” Sanders, 78, said.

Voters in New Hampshire and the rest of the contests in the state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination will have to decide whether they want a moderate or a more left-leaning challenger to Trump. Sanders and Warren are the two progressive standard-bearers in the field, though Warren has been sliding in the polls. Like Sanders, New Hampshire voters are very familiar with Warren, who represents neighboring Massachusetts in the Senate. The moderates include Buttigieg, Klobuchar of Minnesota and Biden.

The prominent role of Iowa and New Hampshire, small and rural states with predominantly white populations, has come under increased criticism this year by Democrats for poorly representing the diversity of the party and the country.

THE ROAD AHEAD

The Feb. 22 caucuses in Nevada, which has a large Latino population, and the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, which has a large African-American population, will pose a new test for the 11 remaining Democratic candidates.

Biden in particular is banking on South Carolina, where he has enjoyed strong support among African-American voters. He served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president.

Support for Biden, the former front-runner in the race, has tumbled nationally since his poor performance in Iowa and he has said he might suffer another weak finish in New Hampshire.

Klobuchar, who arrived at a polling location in Manchester on Tuesday morning, noted her gradual rise in the polls and said she was prepared to keep fighting.

“I’m a different kind of candidate,” Klobuchar told CNN. “… I have also been able to bring people with me.”

Biden, also appearing on CNN, pressed the point that he can win over black and working-class voters and that no one in the South will vote for a democratic socialist.

Warren started her day by visiting a polling location in Portsmouth. She handed out donuts to volunteers and took photos with voters, along with her husband Bruce Mann and dog Bailey.

In Manchester, voter Sara Lutat said she cast her ballot for Buttigieg.

“I think he’s the one who can beat Trump,” she said.

Fellow Manchester voter Rebecca Balzano called Buttigieg “too new, too young” and said she voted for Sanders.

(Reporting by John Whitesides, James Oliphant, Simon Lewis and Amanda Becker in New Hampshire; Writing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao)