The View From The Joe Biden Camp After Super Tuesday
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
After last night's Super Tuesday victories, many people are describing Vice President Joe Biden as a likely front-runner in the Democratic primary.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
JOE BIDEN: People are talking about a revolution. We started a movement. We've increased turnout.
BIDEN: The turnout's turned out for us.
BIDEN: That can deliver us to a moment where we can do extraordinary, extraordinary things.
SHAPIRO: He won 10 of 14 states. Former Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has won the other four states, including California. Biden's campaign was in a very different place at this time last week. To talk about this turnaround and where the former vice president goes from here, we're joined by Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign.
SYMONE SANDERS: Hi. Thanks for having me, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Let's start with today's news - that former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has suspended his campaign and endorsed your boss. How significant do you think that is?
SANDERS: Look; we think it's really helpful. And I think what this lends itself to is the fact that Vice President Biden did really well yesterday because of the energy and enthusiasm that our campaign is creating. And we used the resources that we did have - not the billions of dollars that Mayor Bloomberg has, but the resources that we did have - fairly well.
So while we didn't have officers all over all of the Super Tuesday states, we did have some. We had a lot of distributed organizing happening. We had surrogates and endorsers that stepped up to help us out. And so now, as we look forward to the next phase, potentially Mayor Bloomberg's organization that he's built - depending on what he decides to do - could be, yes, extremely helpful.
SHAPIRO: Have the two of them talked today?
SANDERS: They have spoken, but I am not at liberty to say what they spoke about. And I was not there when it happened.
SHAPIRO: Is there a risk to taking the support from a billionaire and playing into Bernie Sanders' narrative that the Biden campaign is one that is supported by the wealthiest of the wealthy?
SANDERS: Well, look. I think the reality is here - is that Democrats across the country are united in one thing - wanting to beat Donald Trump. And in order to do that, we have to come together. And so Vice President Biden said on the stage last night that his campaign is for anyone that has been knocked down, anyone that has been counted out, anyone that desires to get something done.
And so, you know, look. If Mayor Bloomberg fits the bill of that coalition, which, I think, he does, then we are more than happy to have his support.
The reality here is, Ari, that this race is far from over and that if anyone saw Donald Trump's State of the Union just a couple of weeks ago, two things are clear. Donald Trump is going to be hard to beat, but two, Donald Trump has to be beaten.
So Democrats have to come together and do what needs to be done. And we are just excited that there's this Joe-mentum (ph), as we're calling it, for Vice President Biden's campaign.
SHAPIRO: You say the Democrats are united in wanting to defeat Donald Trump. The party was not united in 2016, and Bernie Sanders supporters felt very alienated by the way the process unfolded. What can Biden do to try to win over members of the progressive wing of the party and avoid the split that hurt Democrats four years ago?
SANDERS: Well, look. I think Vice President Biden - his campaign, our campaign has always been about uniting the country, restoring the soul of the nation, rebuilding the backbone of this country and uniting America. Those are the tenets that Vice President Biden launched his campaign on.
So I think he's been very clear that if elected president, he would need to be a president for everybody. And so our campaign isn't a campaign just for Obama-Biden Democrats or Biden Democrats. Our campaign is a campaign for everyone - everyone who is interested in results.
And, frankly, Ari, we believe that people don't truly want a revolution. What people are really looking for is results when it comes to health care, when it comes to addressing gun violence in our country, when it comes to the economy. So we think that we are well-positioned to pull together a broad coalition. And as you can see, it's already being done.
SHAPIRO: You know, despite Biden's success last night, a lot of Democratic voters have been worried about his performance as a candidate. Some of our reporters in Iowa and New Hampshire talked to voters who decided not to vote for Biden after seeing him in person. His debate performances have been uneven. How do you reassure Democrats that he has the ability to perform consistently?
SANDERS: I think the answer to that question is just watch him. Look. Vice President Biden had a stellar performance in the Charleston debate. He had a stellar performance in the California debate. And I - we look forward to the debate in Phoenix, Ariz., coming up in just a week - little over a week or so. And we believe that he will do well.
Look. He has kept up a very rigorous schedule on the campaign trail. I think anyone who has seen him as of late sees that he is not only sharp but also really speaking to the heart of issues that voters are concerned about. And I think that's why we're drawing in such a big, broad coalition right now, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Before I let you go, you had a viral moment last night tackling a protester and tweeted that you broke a nail.
SHAPIRO: What was going through your head in that moment?
SANDERS: Well, it was a split-second moment, Ari. We were at our big election night rally in California, and a couple protesters attempted to take the stage. Our security was there and acted swiftly, and we're very grateful for them. But a number of staffers, myself included, jumped in to help handle the situation.
And we're just happy that everyone is OK. No one was hurt. My nail did suffer, but I have a nail appointment this afternoon, so it's all good.
SHAPIRO: Symone Sanders, senior adviser to the Biden campaign.
Thanks for joining us.
SANDERS: Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.