The Hill's Campaign Report: Defiant Sanders vows to stay in race

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) isn’t going anywhere yet. 

In a defiant news conference on Wednesday following a stinging defeat in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, Sanders said he would carry on in the nominating contest and would move forward with a one-on-one debate against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE on Sunday.

Sanders offered a sober assessment of his campaign, acknowledging that he was losing the “debate over electability” in the primary. But he insisted that he was winning both the “ideological” and “generational” debate, pointing to his strong support among young voters and chastising Democrats for not doing more to reach that constituency. 

“You must speak to the issues of concern to them,” Sanders said. “You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older.”

The remarks came at a trying time for the Vermont senator. His case for staying in the nominating contest is getting thinner after a disappointing series of primary losses. His defeat in Michigan was particularly crushing; he won the state in his primary bid against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE four years ago and has long argued that his populist message would resonate with working-class voters in the state and help Democrats win it back from President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in 2020.

At the same time, Democratic officials, outside political groups and former rivals are coalescing around Biden as the presumptive nominee. He’s also facing the prospect of an increasingly brutal primary schedule in the coming weeks, as the race turns to states like Florida, where polls show Biden leading by massive margins. 

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Still, Sanders is showing no signs of slowing down. At his Wednesday press conference, he telegraphed plans to aggressively question Biden at a Democratic debate in Phoenix on Sunday, including over what the former vice president would do to address income inequality, criminal justice reform and climate change and if he would really veto a Medicare-for-All bill if it passes Congress?

Whether that debate can turn Sanders’s political fortunes around is unclear. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, however, he made clear that he was focused first and foremost on beating Trump.

“Let me conclude by the way I began,” he said. “Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens.”

 

READ MORE: 

Sanders vows to carry on as Biden grows delegate lead, by The Hill’s Jonathan Easley 

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Sanders faces pivotal moment after dispiriting defeats to Biden, by Jonathan

Five takeaways from the latest Democratic primaries, by Jonathan 

  

FROM THE TRAIL:

Questions have swirled around about how campaigns and polling locations at all levels will handle the outbreak of the coronavirus as another wave of voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio prepare to head to the polls next week. Biden is slated to address the coronavirus response on Thursday from Wilmington, Del., and announced a team of six medical experts on Wednesday that will make up his public health advisory committee. The outbreak led Biden and Sanders to cancel their Tuesday night campaign events in Cleveland due to advice to avoid large gatherings. The Biden campaign on Wednesday also said he would switch to holding “virtual” events in Florida and Illinois. An American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) forum scheduled for Friday in Orlando was also canceled amid coronavirus concerns. 

 

Meanwhile, on President Trump’s campaign, his spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany is defending his decision to continue to hold campaign rallies in the wake of the coronavirus. “The president is the best authority on this issue. He takes into consult the words of everyone around him, that would include [Health and Human Services Secretary] Alex Azar, that would include Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, that would include others. So, I’ll leave it to the president,” McEnany said. “Right now, we’re proceeding as normal.” Trump is slated to deliver an Oval Office address on the virus tonight.

 

Voter turnout in the Democratic primaries in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi soared to its highest levels in more than a decade on Tuesday, Max reports. That turnout – driven by black voters, moderates and suburbanites – largely broke in favor of Biden, who swept a majority of the six states that held their nominating contests on Tuesday. In Michigan, turnout shattered an all-time record, with nearly 1.6 million voters heading to the polls. The two other states that held primaries on Tuesday, Washington and Idaho, also saw massive increases in Democratic votes cast, though it’s difficult to compare turnout to prior years, because both states switched from caucuses to primary systems, which typically drive higher turnout. And in North Dakota, turnout was quadruple what it was in 2016, helped along by new caucus rules that make the nominating contest look more like a primary.

 

PERSPECTIVES: 

Keith Naughton: Michigan to Sanders: The revolution has been cancelled

Albert Hunt: Biden now has a route to the Oval Office — if he navigates the challenges

Brent Budowsky: Biden could defeat Trump by an FDR-like landslide — here’s how

 

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FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

Massachusetts Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyMassachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy says Patriots ‘should sign’ Kaepernick Markey touts past praise from Kennedy: ‘He does an incredible job’ Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE’s campaign said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has prevented him from launching a group aimed at helping other Senate Democrats up for reelection. The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports that Kennedy planned to launch a joint committee to raise funds and support four Democratic Senate candidates. The Boston Globe reported that the candidates were receptive to the plan but that the Kennedy campaign was later told by one of the Democratic campaigns that the DSCC, which is focused in part on defending incumbents, said that they could not team up with Kennedy in the proposed committee.

 

Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE brushed off President Trump’s endorsement of his Senate primary opponent Tommy Tuberville in the run-off race for the Senate seat that Sessions vacated in 2017 when he became attorney general. “We are Alabama. Nobody tells us how to vote or what to do,” Sessions tweeted. Here’s more from The Hill’s Tal Axelrod 

 

POLL WATCH:

ARIZONA (Latino Voters) Telemundo/Mason-Dixon 

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Sanders: 47 percent

Biden: 40 percent

 

FLORIDA (Latino Voters) Telemundo/Mason-Mason-Dixon

Biden: 48 percent

Sanders: 37 percent

 

ARIZONA SENATE – OH Predictive Insights 

Mark Kelly 49 percent

Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police No evidence of unauthorized data transfers by top Chinese drone manufacturer: study Senate Democratic campaign arm launches online hub ahead of November MORE 42 percent

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

March 15:

-Eleventh Democratic presidential primary debate

 

March 17:

-Arizona Democratic primary

-Florida primaries

-Illinois primaries

-Ohio primaries

 

March 24:

-Georgia primaries 

 

March 29:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary

 

We’ll see you tomorrow with a recap of the latest campaign news and updates! 

 

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