President Donald Trump mocked Democrats Sunday night after former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg exited the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, suggesting that the Democratic Party had pushed Buttigieg out before his time so that they could consolidate behind a “moderate” candidate — in this case forme Vice President Joe Biden — and take Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “out of play.”
“Pete Buttigieg is OUT,” Trump tweeted. “All of his SuperTuesday votes will [go] to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play – NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!”
Trump is, of course, alluding to the 2016 race, when Democratic “superdelegates” locked in their votes for Hillary Clinton before the primary race even started, effectively preventing Sanders from snagging the presidential nomination, despite strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Trump has been pressing Democratic voters to fight back against the Democratic Party and its efforts to sideline Sanders for some time, probably on the theory that Trump would prefer to run against the Vermont socialist than an economically middle-of-the-road candidate who polls well in key battleground states, particularly in the midwest and the “Rust Belt.”
Trump won working class states by a large margin in 2016, running against Hillary Clinton, and appealed to so-called “Reagan Democrats” who see themselves as socially and fiscally moderate, but support the return of American manufacturing, tariffs on foreign goods and raw materials, and who responded well to Trump’s message of “making America great again.” Those same voters have largely benefitted from Trump’s policies, and a “working class wage boom” certainly puts them back in Trump’s corner for 2020.
Sanders, however popular he may be with social media progressives, has a difficult time leveling with “Rust Belt” and working class voters and, particularly, older Americans, who see Sanders’ policies as largely benefitting younger workers, college students, and those too young to qualify for Medicare.
Democrats are also increasingly worried that a Sanders presidential run would tank downticket races, throwing the House back to Republicans and destroying any hopes of a Democrat-run Senate.
Buttigieg exited the race for the nomination on Sunday night, just days before Super Tuesday, even though he placed a narrow second in the Iowa caucuses and did, on the whole, better than other major candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who remains in the race and says she will continue to compete for the nod through at least Wisconsin.
Experts speculated Sunday that Buttigieg was pressured to leave the race so that “moderate” votes could consolidate behind Biden, who caught a break Saturday with a commanding win in the South Carolina primary (and seems to be moving upward in the Super Tuesday polls). If this is true, party officials are likely pressuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to exit the race as well, a distinct possibility if she fails to capture her home state of Minnesota on Tuesday (she’s running behind Sanders at the moment).
Biden is now just eight delegates behind Sanders, according to Fox News, further exits could help him close the gap, as could big wins on Super Tuesday, where nearly 1,400 delegates are up for grabs in more than a dozen states.