As SC looms, Democrats fo­cus on Su­per Tues­day

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Beau­mont and Alexandra Jaffe

The South Carolina pri­mary nears, but the race is go­ing na­tional as can­di­dates pivot to 14 states that vote Tues­day.

CHARLESTON, S.C. » Bernie San­ders will swing through North Carolina, Vir­ginia and Mas­sachusetts in the com­ing days. El­iz­a­beth War­ren will make stops in Texas and Arkansas. Amy Klobuchar will be in Ten­nessee and Vir­ginia.

The South Carolina pri­mary is just two days away, but the race is quickly go­ing na­tional as can­di­dates pivot to the 14 states that vote on Tues­day.

The move is in part a recog­ni­tion of Joe Bi­den’s strength in South Carolina, with most of the fo­cus on the mar­gin of his vic­tory and who might come in sec­ond place. But it’s also an ef­fort to tap into the hun­dreds of del­e­gates at stake in the “Su­per Tues­day” con­tests. About a third of the del­e­gates needed to se­cure the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion will be on the table.

The tight turn­around be­tween Satur­day’s pri­mary in South Carolina and the con­tests that fol­low on Tues­day is cre­at­ing a hec­tic stretch for cam­paigns.

“What hap­pens in South Carolina does mat­ter, mostly be­cause of what the cov­er­age is go­ing to be over the three days lead­ing up to Su­per Tues­day. If some­one seems out of the run­ning, they’re go­ing to lose value,” said Achim Bergmann, a Demo­cratic strate­gist whose firm does work in a num­ber of Su­per Tues­day states. “It’s a tough deal for the can­di­dates who are per­ceived to be at the lower rungs at the mo­ment to fig­ure out where can they get some juice.”

New York bil­lion­aire Mike Bloomberg has sought to by­pass the tra­di­tional early vot­ing states in­clud­ing South Carolina to fo­cus ex­clu­sively on the Su­per Tues­day states. But even he had to bal­ance the com­pet­ing de­mands as he qual­i­fied for Tues­day’s de­bate in Charleston. He went back to New York after the de­bate only to re­turn to South Carolina the next day to ap­pear at a CNN town hall.

Bloomberg will be in Ok­la­homa, Arkansas, Ten­nessee and North Carolina — all Su­per Tues­day states — over the next sev­eral days.

The strains on some can­di­dates are ev­i­dent. Pete But­tigieg hop­scotched from Ne­vada on Satur­day to Colorado and South Carolina by Sun­day morn­ing. He then hit Vir­ginia be­fore re­turn­ing to South Carolina.

But even a metic­u­lously crafted sched­ule can fall apart. But­tigieg had planned to swing down to Florida, which votes later in March, for three pri­vate fundrais­ers Wed­nes­day. He abruptly can­celed the events and a pub­lic cam­paign stop in the Mi­ami area be­cause of ill­ness. His aides said he had flu-like symp­toms.

But­tigeig met with mem­bers of the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus and did me­dia in­ter­views in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., be­fore re­turn­ing to South Carolina on Thurs­day for an­other round of cam­paign­ing.

Jim Messina, a top aide on both of Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns, said But­tigieg is in a bind when it comes to the South Carolina-Su­per Tues­day dance.

“It is a big deal” for his cam­paign if But­tigieg doesn’t per­form in South Carolina, he said, be­cause “more peo­ple like me are go­ing to say on TV he can’t get the mi­nor­ity vote, and that’s not help­ful to his nar­ra­tive.”

In­deed, strate­gists in key Su­per Tues­day states say vot­ers there are watch­ing to see what hap­pens in South Carolina be­fore they make up their minds.

“Any­body who de­fies ex­pec­ta­tions and does bet­ter than you ex­pect, it just builds a stronger nar­ra­tive for them,” said Matt An­gle, a Texas Demo­cratic strate­gist.

Texas of­fers the sec­ond-big­gest del­e­gate pot on Su­per Tues­day, with 228 pledged del­e­gates, and But­tigieg and Bi­den are ex­pected to cam­paign there after South Carolina votes. But other can­di­dates, in­clud­ing San­ders, War­ren and Bloomberg, have all made stops there this week.

Bi­den wasn’t do­ing much out­side South Carolina, where his flag­ging cam­paign is seek­ing its first win of the pri­mary sea­son. Like­wise, bil­lion­aire Tom Steyer has es­sen­tially hun­kered down in the state, while Bloomberg, who par­tic­i­pated in the de­bate, has all but ig­nored the early four con­tests and in­stead will cam­paign across a hand­ful of South­ern states that vote next week.

PA­TRICK SE­MAN­SKY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, D-Mass., speaks at a cam­paign event with per­former John Leg­end, Wed­nes­day, at Charleston Mu­sic Hall in Charleston, S.C.

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