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Mike Bloomberg drops out of US presidential race, endorses Joe Biden

Washington: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden — a stunning collapse for the former New York City mayor, who had his 2020 hopes on the Super Tuesday states and drained more than $500 million of his own fortune into the campaign.

Bloomberg announced his departure from the race after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday in the slate of states that account for almost one-third of the total delegates available in the Democratic nominating contest.

According to media reports, he won only the territory of American Samoa, and picked up several dozen delegates elsewhere. Biden, meanwhile, won big in Southern states where Bloomberg had poured tens of millions of dollars and even cautiously hoped for a victory.

Two of his former Democratic rivals, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden as the moderate alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders just the day before Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg ran an unprecedented campaign from the start. His late entrance into the race in November prompted him to skip campaigning in the first four voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. He hung his success on Super Tuesday, spending at least $180 million on advertising in those states, but had planned to continue deep into the primary calendar, already spending millions on advertising in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Before results poured in on Tuesday, he projected confidence while campaigning in Florida, only to have his aides say the campaign would reassess the next day.

Voters ultimately rejected Bloomberg’s argument that he was the candidate best poised to take on Republican President Donald Trump. The president, for his part, had paid close attention to the Democratic nominating contest and had been especially fixated on Bloomberg. Trump regularly railed against his fellow New Yorker on Twitter, mocking his short stature by calling him “Mini Mike” and claiming Bloomberg was the candidate he wanted to run against. On Tuesday, he called the results a “complete destruction” of Bloomberg’s reputation.

Bloomberg, 78, is one of the world’s richest men, worth an estimated $61 billion. His fortune flows from the financial data and media company that bears his name, which he started in the 1980s. In addition to serving 12 years as New York mayor, he endeared himself to progressive groups by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into fighting climate change and curbing gun violence.

Expressing the views of the party establishment – with which many moderates agree – Biden had said that the country did not need a revolution.

Sanders has attacked Biden for his support for the Iraq war and his support for cuts to Social Security, the federal plan for seniors.

There are still two other candidates in the race, both of them leftists whose platforms are close to that of Sanders.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who lost in her home state Massachusetts, was reported to be consulting her staff and allies about whether to continue in the race.

Hindu American member of the House of Representatives Tulsi Gabbard has polled only about one per cent or less of the votes in various states. She supported Sanders in 2016.

Small-town Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who initially had a strong showing, and Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the party primaries after Biden re-emerged as a strong candidate getting more than half the votes in the party poll in South Carolina and backed him in the “Super Tuesday” primaries in 14 states.

Another billionaire, Tom Steyer, has also dropped out, but not formally endorsed Biden.

Sanders, who had been leading in the opinion polls in some of the 14, ended up with only four states.

Sanders appeals to younger voters with his radical ideas for free college tuition, government-run healthcare for all, cutbacks to the military spending and a national minimum wage of $15 per hour.

After languishing in three of the first three polls, Biden proved his electoral viability in South Carolina.

Biden has emerged the leader with 27.5 per cent support to 26 per cent for Sanders in the latest national opinion polls of Democrats aggregated by RealClear Politics, a reversal from last week when Sanders was ahead by six per cent.

The Democratic Party polls are select the 3,979 delegates committed to different candidates who will then elect the party’s nominee at its national convention in July.

Polls have to be held in 32 more states going into June and 14 states that went to the polls on “Super Tuesday” were the biggest batch accounting for about a third of the delegates and give a clearer picture of the race.

Although Sanders lost in the large states Virginia and Texas, where he led in opinion polls, he won in California, the biggest state with the most delegates.

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