Biden, Sanders push for votes as key battleground Michigan heads to polls in US primaries

United States Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, bouncing in the polls and with several weighty endorsements, and his rival Bernie Sanders launched the Michigan election campaign on Monday before a main vote in the main battlefield state.

Biden, 77, was joined at an event in Flint, Michigan by Cory Booker just hours after the New Jersey Senator and One Hope Presidential announced he was supporting the former vice president.

“This could be the turning point not only for a primary campaign,” said Booker. “It could be the day we transformed an entire nation.”

Michigan is the biggest prize of six states holding primaries on Tuesday to decide on a Democratic candidate to face Republican President Donald Trump in November.

Speaking at the event with Booker in Flint, Biden said Michigan “is an important competition not only for the Democratic primary.

“Michigan’s November result could determine who will be the next president of the United States,” he said.

“We are not looking for a revolution,” Biden said in a jab to Sanders, the 78-year-old Vermont senator who is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist.

“What we should be able to do is trust the water coming out of the pipes,” Biden said in a reference to a drinking water pollution crisis that has hit Flint in the past six years.

Sanders was campaigning in Detroit, Michigan on Monday and held a roundtable with experts on the coronavirus, which has killed at least 26 people in the United States and plunged the stock markets.

Sanders criticized Trump’s handling of the crisis.

“Donald Trump does not have the natural ability to understand the coronavirus and his reckless statements confuse people in this country and around the world,” said Sanders.

Booker, the former charismatic mayor of Newark who quit the race in January, is the last prominent African-American politician to support Biden’s bid for the White House, his third after failures in 1988 and 2008.

California Senator Kamala Harris, who ended her nomination campaign in December, also approved Biden, who served eight years as vice president of Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, while like another former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick.

Booker and Harris, both touted as possible vice presidential picks for Biden, were to join him for a “Get Out the Vote” rally in Detroit on Monday evening.

Biden tops polls

Biden has jumped since winning a decisive South Carolina primary victory on February 29, with approvals from key African-American leaders who helped him win the spot as a favorite in the race.

Former Democratic candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg and Beto O’Rourke also fell behind Biden, seeing a moderate as having the best chance of defeating Trump.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who quit the race last week and has a large number of supporters on the left, has yet to approve Biden or Sanders.

Tuesday’s primaries will be the first head-to-head duel between Biden and Sanders since all the other big candidates have given up on the grueling nomination battle that began over a year ago.

Besides Michigan, Democrats will also vote in Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.

Michigan promises to be a must-win for Sanders, who narrowly won the state over Hillary Clinton when he failed in 2016 for the Democratic nomination.

The latest polls for Michigan, however, have Biden with a 15-20 point lead.

According to the latest Missouri poll, Biden is up almost 19 points as he leads Sanders by a narrow two point margin in Washington.

Sanders, desperate to restart his campaign after losing 10 of the 14 states that voted last Tuesday last week, has canceled plans to speak in Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois to focus on Michigan.

Sanders got approval from civil rights leader Jesse Jackson on Sunday.

Jackson endorsed Sanders at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Sunday, reimbursing the Vermont senator for supporting his 1988 bid for the White House.

“I’m with Bernie Sanders today because he’s with me,” said Jackson. “I’m with him because he’s with you.”

Biden’s Tuesday flare-up prompted an influx of donations – $ 22 million in recent days, his campaign said in a statement on Sunday.

He said $ 12 million would be spent on hiring new employees and launching a major media campaign in the battlefield states.

(AFP)