ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. — Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, at a rally here, as Super Tuesday results trickled in from across the country.
Sanders did not utter Biden’s name, but the senator predicted that he would win the nomination and defeat President Trump, because the race would become a “contrast of ideas.” He then laid into Biden’s long record in Washington, which he compared with his own.
“One of us in this race led the opposition to the war in Iraq. You’re looking at him. Another candidate voted for the war in Iraq. One of us has spent his entire life fighting against cuts in Social Security. … The other candidate has been on the floor of the Senate calling for cuts to Social Security,” Sanders said.
Sanders continued attacking Biden, who scored numerous victories in Tuesday’s contests and cemented his status as a leading contender for the Democratic nomination.
“One of us led the opposition to a disastrous trade agreement which cost millions of good-paying jobs, and the other candidate voted for disastrous trade agreements. One of us stood up for consumers and said, ‘We will not support a disastrous bankruptcy bill,’ and another candidate represented the credit card companies and voted for that disastrous bill,” he said.
With strong performances in the first three states on the primary calendar — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — Sanders had emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. However, on Feb. 29, Biden scored an overwhelming win in South Carolina that helped him catch up to Sanders’s delegate lead and gave him much-needed momentum heading into Super Tuesday, when 14 states were holding primaries.
As of this writing, Sanders has earned victories in Utah, Colorado and his home state of Vermont. He was also projected to win California, the biggest state up for grabs.
Biden, meanwhile, won in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia and Texas. As of 3 a.m., Maine was too close to call.
Despite Biden’s surge, Sanders declared in his speech that “It is our campaign, our movement, which is best positioned to defeat Trump.”
“You cannot beat Trump with the same old, same old kind of politics,” Sanders said. “What we need is a new politics that brings working-class people into our political movement, which brings young people into our political movement and which, in November, will create the highest voter turnout in American political history.”
Sanders has made promising to transform the electorate with an influx of new voters a cornerstone of his campaign. But while he has succeeded in winning over Latino voters in the early states, overall turnout has not reached record levels, and young voters, who largely favor Sanders, have not come out in force.
Sanders concluded his speech by expressing confidence in his chances of winning California.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen later tonight. We’re doing well in Texas right now. We won Colorado, and I’m cautiously optimistic that later in the evening we can win the largest state in this country, the state of California,” he said.
He went on to take one more thinly veiled shot at Biden.
“But no matter what happens … if it comes out to be a campaign where we have one candidate who is standing up for the working class and the middle class, we’re going to win that election. And if we have another candidate who has received contributions from at least 60 billionaires, we’re going to win that election,” Sanders said.
Early on in his speech, Sanders noted it was the 31st anniversary of his first election as mayor of Burlington, Vt. He said he had not been expected to win that race, but ultimately prevailed by just 10 votes, a situation he compared to the presidential election.
“When we began this race for the presidency, everybody said it couldn’t be done,” Sanders said. “But tonight, I tell you with absolute confidence, we are going to win the Democratic nomination, and we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.”