Sen. Bernie Sanders contrasted his record and campaign with former Vice President Joe Biden’s as he pitched himself as the best person to take on President Donald Trump at a St. Paul rally the night before Super Tuesday.
“It is absolutely imperative that we defeat Trump, that we have a candidate’s agenda and record that can defeat Trump. And not only is our record different, the nature of our campaign is different,” Sanders said, describing strong grassroots support for his campaign while he said Biden is drawing money from billionaires and is “just wrong on the issues.”
The Vermont senator urged supporters of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who ended their campaigns over the past two days, to join his cause. He said they are united in shared values of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
“To all of Amy and Pete’s millions of supporters: The door is open, come on in,” he said.
But just as Sanders was making his pitch in Minnesota, Klobuchar was in Dallas telling people to vote for Biden. She and Buttigieg endorsed Biden, whom moderates view as the most formidable challenger to Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist.
Sanders heads into the critical primary day with momentum from strong showings in early voting states and a slight lead in the national delegate count. He has six more delegates than Biden. But only a small portion of the total delegates have been allocated so far, and the landscape of the race could change Tuesday when 14 states will pick who they want to be the Democratic nominee.
A Star Tribune/MPR Minnesota Poll conducted two weeks ago showed Sanders coming in a close second in Minnesota behind Klobuchar. Biden came in fourth. The former vice president has since gained national momentum after a decisive win in South Carolina, and Klobuchar’s endorsement could provide a boost for him in Minnesota. However, he has focused his resources on getting out the vote in other states, while Sanders has had an organizational head start in Minnesota.
Sanders has been able to draw on a base of supporters and volunteers who helped deliver him a win in Minnesota in the 2016 caucuses.
He urged the thousands of people who packed the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Monday night to keep up that momentum.
“Here we are tonight a few hours before the Minnesota primary. I am here tonight to respectfully ask for your support tomorrow … I’m asking you to bring out your friends, your co-workers, your aunts, your uncles,” he told the crowd.
Supporters roared in support as Sanders hit on defining issues for his campaign, including Medicare for All, eliminating student debt and passing a Green New Deal.
Sarah Mardaus, 27, of St. Paul, was in the audience. She plans to vote for the senator and said she appreciates that Sanders’ stances and policies have not wavered.
“He’s always consistent with everything he does. He’s been doing so since the 1960s, with the civil rights movement,” she said. “He doesn’t give up. He’s strong-willed.”
Sanders has garnered support from a long list of celebrities and musicians, and his rallies have featured major musical performances. Rapper Chuck D played to a large crowd at Sanders’ Sunday night rally in Los Angeles and the St. Paul event included performances from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Maria Isa.
In Minnesota, he has attracted some significant endorsements from progressive politicians, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who spoke at Monday’s rally.
“I don’t just want us to defeat Trump, I want us to fight for a better future,” Omar told the audience. “And I am proud to be here to make sure you all vote.”