Tuesday’s presidential contests are being called “Big Tuesday” or “Super Tuesday II,” with Michigan among the most valuable of states holding primaries that might further Joe Biden’s momentum or signal at a protracted Democratic race against Bernie Sanders.
The stakes were evident in a video that went viral: It featured Biden’s visit to a Detroit auto plant, where a worker confronted him by telling him, “You’re trying to take away our guns.”
Very quickly, Biden responded, “You’re full of sh*t.” He then said that he supports the Second Amendment, before they got into a longer argument about gun rights and proposals to ban semi-automatic assault rifles.
The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign quickly rushed up a tweet of the confrontation, and the Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir retweeted it before replacing the Trump Twitter message with one from a media outlet (below). But Biden campaign official also played up the video — as a sign that they think the whole incident is a good thing for them, not a detriment.
Six states are holding nominating contests on Tuesday — Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho and North Dakota — with a total of 352 delegates. That’s not the blockbuster of Super Tuesday, but media outlets are still playing up its significance.
For Biden’s campaign, it will be a chance to solidify a lead over Sanders in the delegate count. A victory in Michigan will be particularly significant, as Sanders won the state in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. A Biden win in Washington state, where Sanders won almost 73% of the vote in 2016, would be a serious upset, raising questions of just how Sanders sees a path forward to the nomination. The unknown of Washington state is the impact of the coronavirus, as Seattle is one of the areas so far hardest hit. The state has mail-in balloting, so turnout might not be an issue like it is in other states, yet it still will be on the minds of voters. The secretary of state tweeted that voters should not lick their envelopes but use a wet sponge or cloth.
Sanders, meanwhile, is looking for a resurgence, something that would temper the storylines of Biden’s Super Tuesday turnaround. Even if Sanders loses Michigan and — as seems most likely — Mississippi, the campaign likely would play up victories in other states. After all, there is another big opportunity to shake up the race when Sanders and Biden go head to head for the first time in the next Democratic debate on March 15. That would give Sanders the chance to make a sharp contrast with Biden or even raise questions about his liabilities in a fall matchup with President Donald Trump.
Returns will start coming in at 8 p.m. ET, when polls close in Mississippi and most of Michigan.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.