ST. PAUL, Minn. – Sen. Bernie Sanders railed against the political establishment at a rally here Monday night as his more moderate rivals worked to blunt his momentum by consolidating their support around Joe Biden on the eve of Super Tuesday voting.
“As you all know — you can’t miss it if you turn on the TV — the establishment in this country, the economic establishment and the political establishment, are becoming very nervous,” Sanders told the crowd. “They look at rallies like this and say … ‘What’s going on here?’”
Sanders took the stage at the Saint Paul RiverCentre as three of his former opponents — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas — gathered at a rally in Dallas to endorse the former vice president.
Together, the three endorsements represented a coalescence within the establishment wing of the Democratic Party, whose members have grown increasingly anxious that Sanders’ campaign would exploit their division and cruise to the nomination.
Sanders leads the delegate race after contests in the first four early-voting states. And he’s consistently outperformed his competitors when it comes to fundraising, bringing in more than $46 million in February alone.
Still, Sanders opened his rally with an attempt at unity.
His supporters cheered the demise of both Klobuchar’s and Buttigieg’s campaigns. But Sanders issued praise for both, saying Klobuchar is “one of the hardest workers that I know,” and calling Buttigieg’s campaign both “historic” and “brave.”
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“Tonight, I want to open the door to Amy’s supporters, to Pete’s supporters,” he said. “We all have our differences. But I also know that virtually all of Amy’s supporters and Pete’s supporters understand that we have got to move toward a government which believes in justice, not greed.”
Sanders also blunted the crowd’s burgeoning “boos” for Biden.
“Joe is a decent guy, he’s just wrong on the issues,” Sanders said, before walking through those issues at length.
He knocked Biden for taking campaign contributions from wealthy donors, voting for the Iraq War and voting for “disastrous” trade agreements.
A third of all available delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday, including 75 in Minnesota.
Though there’s been relatively little polling of the state, a Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll from last week showed Sanders in a strong position – particularly after Klobuchar ended her campaign earlier Monday.
That poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%, showed Klobuchar leading Sanders by 6 percentage points – 29% to 23%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren followed at 11% and Biden was at 8%.
According to the Associated Press, more than 57,000 Democratic ballots have already been cast through the state’s early voting system. Last Wednesday was the deadline for those voters to change their minds.
In previous years, the state has used a party-run caucus that in 2016 drew about 207,000 participants.