St. Paul, Minnesota (CNN)Bernie Sanders has spent his entire campaign saying this day would come.
Now, it’s here.
After more than a year of angling and long periods of indecision, the leaders of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party are rapidly coming together to lift and fortify former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. The dramatic coalescing around Biden all came over two days that set the party’s presidential race on a collision course between Sanders’ political revolution and Biden’s bid to revive former President Barack Obama’s legacy.
The Super Tuesday contests, with about a third of the delegates to the national convention on the line, could decide more than the trajectory of this primary. A run of victories for Sanders in states like California, Texas and Minnesota have the potential to fundamentally alter the identity of a party he has for decades sought to remake according to his own vision. But if Biden can pull together voters, especially suburban moderates, Sanders’ position would be dramatically weakened — and his campaign’s early promise put in doubt.
That dynamic is comfortable territory for Sanders, who on Monday responded matter-of-factly to the rush of support for Biden. He has been predicting a fight with the party establishment would happen, in one form or another, for months. As he jumped up in the polls at the end of last year, and then won in New Hampshire and Nevada, Sanders has delighted in poking at party leaders’ increasingly vocal anxieties over his rise. After inviting Buttigieg and Klobuchar supporters to join his campaign — “The door is open,” he said, “come on in!” — Sanders at his Super Tuesday eve rally in Minnesota, turned his attention back to the “political establishment.”
“When they look at rallies like this in St. Paul and say, ‘What’s going on here?’,” Sanders said, before asking his supporters to “imagine a Democratic Party in which working people and young people finally have a voice.”
Speaking to reporters in Salt Lake City earlier in the day, Sanders touted his own new endorsements: from the progressive group Democracy for America and The Nation, a liberal magazine. He also name-checked other high-profile backers, including Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and California Rep. Ro Khanna, a campaign co-chair.
“I’m proud of the grassroots organisations that we have. Look, we are taking on the establishment.
And I fully understand, no great surprise to me that establishment politicians are not going to endorse us,” Sanders said when asked about Biden’s recent haul. “The establishment will rally around establishment candidates. That’s the simple reality.”