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Biden and Trump move closer to a November rematch after Super Tuesday victories

Side-by-side closeups of President Biden and former President Trump
President Biden and former President Trump were on the ballot in 16 states and one U.S. territory on Super Tuesday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
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President Biden and former President Trump romped to victories in most states on Super Tuesday, all but cementing a November rematch and increasing pressure on the former president’s last major rival, Nikki Haley, to leave the Republican race.

Biden and Trump won their parties’ nominating contests in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Massachusetts. Biden also won the Democratic primaries in Vermont and Iowa. Results were still being counted late Tuesday in Minnesota, Utah and Alaska.

Haley prevailed over Trump in Vermont’s GOP primary. But the former president carried other states that could have leaned toward Haley, such as Virginia and Maine, which have large swaths of moderate voters like those who have backed her in previous primaries.

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The only other contest either of the major candidates lost Tuesday was the Democratic caucuses in American Samoa, a tiny U.S. territory in the South Pacific. Biden was defeated by the little-known Jason Palmer, 51 votes to 40.

Not enough states will have voted until later this month for Trump or Biden to formally become their parties’ presumptive nominees. But Tuesday, the primary season‘s biggest day, made their rematch a near certainty. Both 81-year-old Biden and 77-year-old Trump continue to dominate their parties even as they face questions about their ages and struggle with a lack of broad popularity across the general electorate.

Haley, 52, who has argued that both men are too old to return to the White House, was spending election night watching results in the Charleston, S.C., area, where she lives. Her campaign website doesn’t list any upcoming events. Still, her aides said that the mood at her watch party was “jubilant.”

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, meanwhile, was packed for a victory party that featured hors d’oeuvres including empanadas and baked brie. Among those attending were staff and supporters, including the rapper Forgiato Blow and former North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn. The crowd erupted as Fox News, playing on screens around the ballroom, announced that the former president had won North Carolina’s GOP primary.

The California primary election March 5 features the U.S. Senate, L.A. County district attorney and several other competitive races. Here’s what to know as you head to the polls.

March 4, 2024

The earliest either of the leading candidates can secure enough delegates to become his party’s presumptive nominee is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden. But in a departure from most Super Tuesdays, both the Democratic and Republican nominations are effectively settled, with Biden and Trump headed for a reprise of the 2020 general election campaign.

“We have to beat Biden — he is the worst president in history,” Trump said Tuesday on the “Fox & Friends” cable morning show.

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Biden countered with a pair of radio interviews aimed at shoring up his support among Black voters, who helped anchor his 2020 coalition.

“If we lose this election, you’re going to be back with Donald Trump,” Biden said on “DeDe in the Morning,” hosted by DeDe McGuire. “The way he talks about, the way he acted, the way he has dealt with the African American community, I think, has been shameful.”

Despite Biden’s and Trump’s domination of their parties, polls make it clear that the broader electorate does not want this year’s general election to be a repeat of the 2020 race. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll indicates that a majority of Americans don’t think either candidate has the necessary mental acuity for the job.

“Both of them failed, in my opinion, to unify this country,” said Brian Hadley, 66, of Raleigh, N.C.

The days leading up to Super Tuesday demonstrated the unique nature of this year’s campaign. Rather than barnstorming the states holding primaries, Biden and Trump held rival events last week along the U.S.-Mexico border, each seeking to gain an advantage in the increasingly fraught immigration debate.

A voter heads into the Central Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Ark., to cast their ballot Tuesday.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)
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After the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday to restore Trump to primary ballots following some states’ attempts to ban him after he was found liable for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, Trump pointed to the 91 criminal counts in multiple cases against him to accuse Biden of weaponizing the courts.

“Fight your fight yourself,” Trump said. “Don’t use prosecutors and judges to go after your opponent.”

Biden will deliver the State of the Union address Thursday before campaigning in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The president will defend policies responsible for “record job creation, the strongest economy in the world, increased wages and household wealth, and lower prescription drug and energy costs,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt said in a statement.

LaBolt also drew a contrast to Trump’s priorities, which he described as “rewarding billionaires and corporations with tax breaks, taking away rights and freedoms, and undermining our democracy.”

Biden’s campaign called attention to Trump’s provocative statements evoking Adolf Hitler, in which he said that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the nation and suggested that he would begin acting as a dictator on his first day back in the White House.

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Trump recently told a gala for Black conservatives that he believed African Americans empathized with him due to his four criminal indictments. That drew another rebuke from Democrats around the country, in part for likening his personal legal struggles to the historical injustices Black people have faced in the U.S.

The former president has nonetheless already vanquished more than a dozen major Republican challengers and now has only one left: Haley, his onetime United Nations ambassador, who was also twice elected governor of South Carolina.

Haley has hopscotched across the country, visiting at least one Super Tuesday state almost daily for more than a week and suggesting Trump cannot defeat Biden.

“We can do better than two 80-year-old candidates for president,” she said at a rally Monday in the Houston suburbs.

Haley has maintained strong fundraising and notched her first primary victory over the weekend in Washington, D.C., a Democratic-run city with few registered Republicans. Trump scoffed at her win, saying that Haley had been “crowned queen of the swamp.”

But Trump’s victories have revealed his vulnerabilities with influential voter blocs, especially in college towns such as Hanover, N.H., home to Dartmouth College, or Ann Arbor, Mich., where the University of Michigan is located; as well as in areas with high concentrations of political independents. That includes Minnesota, a state Trump did not carry in his otherwise overwhelming Super Tuesday performance in 2016.

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Seth De Penning, a self-described conservative-leaning independent, voted for Haley on Tuesday morning in Eden Prairie, Minn., he said, because the GOP “needs a course correction.” De Penning, 40, called his choice a vote of conscience, and said he had never voted for Trump due to concerns about his temperament and character.

Still, Trump’s dominance over Haley in most of Tuesday’s GOP contests will only intensify pressure on her to leave the race.

Biden has his own problems, including low approval ratings and polls suggesting that many Americans, even a majority of Democrats, don’t want to see him run again. Even his easy Michigan primary win last week was tainted by a large “uncommitted” vote by those who disapprove of his handling of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip.

Organizers of the “uncommitted” vote are pushing similar protest votes elsewhere, including in Minnesota. The state has a significant population of Muslims, including in its Somali American community, who largely support Gaza’s Palestinians. “Uncommitted” garnered at least 38,000 votes in Minnesota on Tuesday.

“Joe Biden has not done enough to earn my vote and not done enough to stop the war, stop the massacre,” said voter Sarah Alfaham of the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.

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Biden is the oldest president ever, and Republicans key in on any verbal slip he makes. His aides say skeptical voters will come around once it is clear that either Trump or Biden will be elected again in November. Trump is now the same age Biden was during the 2020 campaign, and he has exacerbated concerns about his own fitness with recent flubs, such as his suggestion that he was running against Barack Obama, who left the White House in 2017.

“I would love to see the next generation move up and take leadership roles,” said Democrat Susan Steele, 71, who voted for Biden on Tuesday in Portland, Maine.

Mary Veroneau, a 69-year-old old Maine Democrat, also voted for Biden, but said, “You’d honestly want a younger candidate” than either the president or the former president.

Such concerns haven’t moved ardent Trump supporters.

“Trump would eat him up,” said Ken Ballos, a retired police officer who attended a weekend Trump rally in Virginia, adding that Biden “would look like a fool up there.”

Weissert and Megerian reported from Washington and Barrow from Atlanta. Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine.; Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh, N.C.; Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Va.; Trisha Ahmed in Eden Prairie, Minn.; and Seung Min Kim in Washington contributed to this report.

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