Sounds like he’s doing … something, although NBC is vague on the details. Presumably he’s working the phones and nudging people like Harry Reid and Susan Rice that now’s the time for them to endorse Joe, if in fact they’re leaning that way. I wonder if he also made it known to Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, whether directly or via third parties, that the Democratic establishment will look more warmly upon their future endeavors if they accepted electoral reality and bowed out gracefully before Super Tuesday.
There’s not much he can do to convince Mike Bloomberg, who’s 78 and has more money than God, to quit. But he could certainly reach out to Democratic mega-donors and ask them to get off the fence between Joe and Mike at a moment when Biden needs lots of fuel in the tank for a long campaign. There’s been a surge of pledges to his campaign after South Carolina, some of which is no doubt organic. But maybe the “hidden hand” of Obama is at work there too.
Obama spoke with his former vice president after he handily won the South Carolina primary on Saturday, and with Pete Buttigieg on Sunday when he dropped out of the Democratic race, according to people familiar with the calls…
People close to Obama said the former president has been keeping close tabs on the race. They said the signal has been sent in the past 36 hours that he sees Biden as the candidate to back, and they don’t need Obama to say it publicly or privately…
One Democratic aide said on Monday that “pressure is mounting” on Mike Bloomberg from the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, who want him to stand down from competing in Super Tuesday contests. This person described the Bloomberg campaign as fielding a lot of “incoming” from Democrats.
There’s nothing Obama and his network can do to muscle Mike, and they probably wouldn’t do it even if they could given how much financial leverage he has over the party. (Remember that he’s planning to fund outside groups to help the nominee this fall.) But his many, many, many advisors and consultants aren’t as independent from the Democratic machine as Bloomy himself is. Presumably it’s being made clear to them that their future employment prospects with Democratic candidates might be impaired, shall we say, if they don’t do what they can to prevent a vanity candidacy from inadvertently enabling a socialist victory.
Bloomberg’s run wasn’t a total disaster for Democrats: If Berniementum had succeeded in stopping Joe in South Carolina, Mike would be the “break glass in case of emergency” option for moderate Democrats tonight. But once Biden proved he was for real, Bloomberg’s campaign became a de facto pro-Bernie Super PAC. He exists now solely to hold Biden’s vote totals down. That can’t go on much longer, and Obama’s likely doing what he can behind the scenes to make sure all relevant players understand it.
Biden’s not the only top candidate being dragged down by an also-ran who won’t quit, though. Aaron Blake diagnoses Bernie’s “Elizabeth Warren problem”:
As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported in late January, the most pronounced second-choice shift in the Democratic primary field was Warren supporters going to Sanders. A Quinnipiac University poll at the time showed 35 percent of Warren supporters said Sanders was their second choice. In early February, that stood at 33 percent…
[T]he early exits of Buttigieg and Klobuchar could be doubly bad for Sanders. Their supporters are going somewhere, but that somewhere doesn’t seem at all likely to be Sanders, who was the second choice of just 11 percent of Buttigieg backers and 9 percent of Klobuchar backers in the Quinnipiac polls. If they go to Biden, he could compete with Sanders for a delegate lead. If they go to Warren, she may see fit to stay in the race and keep splitting up the liberal vote.
Not only is Warren hoarding progressive votes from Bernie, she might gain enough of a share of Buttigieg’s and Klobuchar’s voters in Massachusetts to win it outright, denying Sanders a victory in a rare state tonight where Biden isn’t competitive. (I think?) She’s gotten some encouragement from women’s interest groups too in the past 24 hours after Klobuchar departed the race, with both Emily’s List and NOW endorsing her and urging to keep going. Even if she loses Massachusetts to Sanders and ends up underperforming, I think there’s a decent chance she’ll crawl on anyway and make her last stand at the debate on March 15. That could be a three-person event: The leftist Sanders, the centrist Biden, and the in-between candidate Warren, who’ll plead with voters on both sides of the party that she can be all things to all of them ideologically.
But if that happens, it means Bernie will have to endure an extra week of primaries with Warren sapping votes from him. Which may be decisive in helping Biden build an insurmountable national delegate lead. Which means Elizabeth Warren could soon be the most hated woman in progressive America. I can’t wait.
Here she is last night polishing her credentials as the goldilocks candidate in the race. She jabbed Bernie a few days ago for not being able to enact his agenda. Now she’s jabbing Biden for being too much of an insider.