Bernie Sanders wanted to spoil Joe Biden’s good weekend.
Sanders panned the former Vice President at a San Jose rally on Sunday hours after Biden’s decisive primary election win in South Carolina, and moments before Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign.
“Please do not forget, Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq,” Sanders said in a two-minute barrage, scorching his newly-defined rival.
As voters across the country prepare for Super Tuesday, Sanders took Biden’s electability argument for a spin. He argued that in a race against President Donald Trump, Biden’s past support for trade deals, the Iraq War and a balanced budget bill would dent Biden’s campaign beyond repair.
“We’ve got to be honest and we have to say which campaign can beat Trump,” Sanders told the thousands in attendance at the San Jose Convention Center.
Sanders is trying to shore up support in delegate-dense California, which votes on Super Tuesday for the first time this year. Attendees were largely united in urgent hopes to beat President Trump, yet some Sanders-skeptics registered their concerns outside of the rally.
“There are still some Bernie Sanders supporters who won’t vote for anybody else, then stay home,” said San Jose native Tom Watts, 78, who sported a sign that read “A Vote for Sanders is a Vote for Trump.” He identifies as a “Republican against Trump” and prefers Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden.
Watts, fended off peeved members of the Sanders’ faithful, and defused some potentially heated encounters. He has voted Republican in every race except for 2016, 2008 and in 1964, when he refused to vote for Goldwater. Watts said he will vote for Sanders if he is the nominee, but dreads that outcome.
Alekz Londos, 39, whose chalk art outside the rally drew claps and camera snaps, struck the opposite tone.
“If Bernie Sanders isn’t elected,” said Londos, “I’m just gonna give up on life and everything – my career, my job, my school.”
Scores of Sanders supporters flocked to Watts, forming a neat line to make their case for Sanders’ electability. The discussions that ensued symbolize the broader battle within the Democratic race. Sanders offers to inspire Democrats like Londos who will donate their full energy, while Biden promises to convert disaffected Republicans and swing voters like Watts.
Super Tuesday could potentially steer the trajectory of the race, which is still split between moderates and progressive. The five remaining candidates – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar – will vie for the 494 delegates up for grabs in the California and the 1,344 delegates in total on the day.