Sanders, Biden Hold Virtual Events on Vote Eve: Campaign Update

Sanders, Biden Hold Virtual Events on Vote Eve: Campaign Update
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(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders held his first virtual campaign rally Monday night, seeking to replicate the in-person experiences that draw thousands of his supporters to events around the country.

As political candidates adapt to campaigning during the coronavirus outbreak, Sanders was joined by surrogates and musical acts for a virtual rally that was livestreamed across digital platforms including Twitter and YouTube.

Sanders hit on his usual campaign themes and talked extensively about the virus pandemic and the need for Medicare for All. He also rejected the argument that former Vice President Joe Biden is more electable. The Vermont senator said he still believes he is the best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump despite Biden’s overwhelming success in primary races and his delegate lead.

The event also featured Daryl Hannah and her husband, Neil Young, who performed. Representative Chuy Garcia of Illinois, one of the states voting on Tuesday, and Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner, among other surrogates, also made brief appearances.

An hour after Sanders’s event started, Biden held a tele-town hall with former surgeon general Vivek Murthy. Many of the questions focused on the coronavirus though he also heard from voters who wanted him to discuss his views on guns and college debt.

“I know this isn’t the way any of us would prefer to connect and engage,” Biden said. “I appreciate everyone bearing with us as we figure out all the logistics of campaigning in an entirely new way here.” Biden said his staff told him 35,000-38,000 people called in.

Ohio Governor Asks for Election Delay (3:46 p.m.)

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is asking state courts to extend Ohio’s primary until June 2, saying voters should not be forced to choose between voting and protecting their health.

DeWine said absentee balloting would continue, but the in-person voting would happen on June 2.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said suspending in-person balloting on Tuesday is a serious matter but justified. The state’s recommendation to the courts is that Ohio voters be allowed to continue requesting and submitting absentee ballots until June 2, he said.

DeWine said absentee balloting would continue, but the in-person voting would happen on June 2.

Biden Leads in Ohio, Arizona Before Primaries (2:34 p.m.)

Joe Biden is strongly favored going into Tuesday’s primaries in Ohio and Arizona, a new NBC News-Marist poll finds.

Biden has a comfortable double-digit lead in both states over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In Ohio, Biden leads 58% to Sanders’s 35%, and in Arizona he leads 53% to Sanders’s 36%.

Democratic voters in both states signal they are unlikely to budge. In the NBC News-Marist poll of Ohio, 14% of voters said they could be persuaded to vote for another candidate, and only 7% said the same in Arizona.

The Arizona poll mirrors one released Monday morning by Monmouth University that found Biden with 51% to Sanders’s 31%. Sanders is maintaining his advantage among Latino voters, but it’s not enough to put him over the top. -- Emma Kinery

Ohio Promotes Social Distancing in Voting Lines (10:57 AM)

Ohio’s secretary of state says people should vote -- by mail, using early-voting sites and standing far apart in line for in-person voting in Tuesday’s primary elections.

In a message posted Sunday on Facebook, Frank LaRose encouraged Ohioans to find ways to vote while practicing social distancing and to volunteer as a poll worker to help with a projected shortage.

“Like so many things in the coming weeks, this election may look and feel a little different than normal,” he wrote. “Our nation has conducted free and fair elections during difficult times before, and on Tuesday we will do so once again.”

The state has already moved some polling places such as those in senior centers to protect older residents. Poll workers will regularly sanitize voting machines and wash their hands. And absentee voters will be allowed to drop off their ballots curbside on Election Day.

Trump Associates Undermine Coronavirus Message (9:38 a.m.)

Some of President Donald Trump’s outside associates have raised conspiracy theories and gone against public health recommendations on coronavirus in recent days, undermining the Trump administration’s own recommendations.

Former Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke, who spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention and was on Trump’s short list for a position at the Department of Homeland Security, promoted a conspiracy theory Sunday.

In a tweet that was flagged by Twitter for violating its rules, Clarke indirectly accused philanthropist George Soros of being involved in a “FLU panic.”

In a second tweet that was later removed, he urged Americans to “GO INTO THE STREETS” and demand bars, restaurants, churches, malls and schools be reopened, contradicting the advice of public health experts about gathering in large groups.

Meantime, Bernie Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner whom Trump pardoned in February, tweeted on Sunday that he felt the “hysteria is being created to destabilize the country” and hurt the economy under Trump.

Some Trump associates have changed their tunes. After arguing that coronavirus was way below other causes of death like cancer last week, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is now praising the president for fighting the pandemic.

Biden Leads Sanders in Arizona Poll (5 a.m.)

A poll released Monday shows Joe Biden with a 20-point lead over Bernie Sanders in Arizona, a state where the Vermont senator expects to do well in a primary Tuesday thanks to his support among a large Hispanic population.

Sanders beats Biden 48% to 41% among the state’s Latinos in the Monmouth University poll. But Biden is well ahead among all likely Democratic primary voters, with 51% support compared with 31% for Sanders.

Almost one-third of Arizona’s residents are Hispanic and Sanders is hoping to replicate his success in contests in Nevada and California, where he received a majority of Latino support.

A strong showing in Arizona would help Sanders partially offset his weakness in the three other states that hold primaries Tuesday -- Arizona, Florida and Ohio -- where Biden has huge leads in polls.

The poll of 373 voters who are likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary has a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points. -- Emma Kinery

Coming Up

Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio will hold primaries on Tuesday.

(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, also sought the Democratic presidential nomination. He endorsed Joe Biden on March 4.)

--With assistance from Emma Kinery and Jennifer Epstein.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Teague Beckwith in Washington, D.C. at rbeckwith3@bloomberg.net;Tyler Pager in Washington at tpager1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley

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