DETROIT (AP) - Joe Biden had another big night in the Democratic presidential primary, capturing four more states, including Michigan.
The key battleground state helped propel Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy four years ago, and the loss on Tuesday dealt a serious blow to his 2020 campaign.
Sanders’ narrow hopes for good news rested on North Dakota and Washington state, where votes were still being tabulated.
In the first batch of results from Washington, released late Tuesday night, Sanders and Biden are essentially tied — with each claiming about 33% of the roughly 1 million counted votes.
Most counties in Washington state will next provide an update about their results Wednesday.
Biden also won Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, showing strength with working-class voters and African American voters.
During an appearance near his Philadelphia campaign headquarters, Biden called Tuesday’s vote “another good night” and “a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honor to the White House.”
In a subdued tone, Biden reached out to supporters of struggling rival Sanders, thanking him and his following “for their tireless energy and their passion” and their common goal: to “beat Donald Trump.”
Biden reminded his supporters — and a national television audience — of the former rivals who have endorsed him, more recently California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, saying: "We’re bringing this party together. That’s what we have to do.”
Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang is backing Joe Biden’s presidential bid, saying it’s time for Democrats to rally around the former vice president and get ready for the general election.
Following Biden’s projected wins in a number of state primaries Tuesday, Yang said on CNN that he sees Biden as the best-positioned candidate to defeat President Donald Trump in November, saying Democrats need to “come together as a party, starting tonight.”
A supporter of Bernie Sanders in 2016, Yang said the Vermont senator inspired his own presidential run, which Yang ended in February before signing on as a CNN political commentator.
Yang said he believes the progressive ideas expressed by candidates like Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and himself “will have a voice in the Biden administration to start solving these problems.”
Democrats in North Dakota added staff at their caucus site in Fargo after heavy turnout led to wait times as long as an hour.
The party was expecting a big surge in turnout thanks to a revamp of the caucus system plus high interest in the presidential race.
North Dakota shifted this year from traditional caucuses to so-called “firehouse caucuses” that look a lot like a standard election.
Voters can show up, cast a ballot and leave.
But it’s a party-run system and Democrats had just 14 voting sites around the state and a voting window that ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sanders and Biden have canceled their primary-night rallies in Cleveland amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.
Sanders’ campaign also announced Tuesday that all the Vermont senator’s future events “will be evaluated on a case by case basis.”
A Biden spokesman initially indicated that the former vice president’s own Cleveland rally would take place as scheduled in Cleveland, but his campaign released a statement moments later saying that it, too, was canceling.
Both events had been timed as results from six states voting Tuesday in the Democratic presidential primary would begin rolling in.
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Biden faced down a pro-gun worker in a testy exchange over his plan to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
He spoke at an auto plant in Detroit on Tuesday and then was confronted by a worker in a hard hat who accused him of “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right." Biden used an expletive to tell the worker he was “full of" it and hushed an aide who was trying to end the conversation.
Biden went on to say he supports the Second Amendment but added: “Do you need 100 rounds?”
The worker pointed to a “viral video” in which he alleged Biden said he would take away people’s guns. Biden replied that he “did not say that” and that the video was “lying.”
Biden otherwise received an overwhelmingly positive response from the autoworkers while courting the union vote in a final push as Michigan residents vote in the presidential primary.
Michigan boosted Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, but four years later, the same state could either revive his campaign or relegate him to the role of protest candidate.
Sanders is in an urgent fight to turn things around as the primary calendar quickly shifts to other states in the coming weeks that could favor Biden and narrow his path to the nomination.
A quirk in how delegates are won under Democratic Party rules is raising the stakes for Tuesday’s primary elections, allowing a candidate to make up ground in the race quickly — or fall further behind.
The 352 delegates up for grabs in Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota makes for only the fourth-largest delegate night on the primary calendar.
But the intricate arithmetic of how delegates are won under Democratic Party rules makes it possible for a candidate to reap a bigger haul of delegates with a smaller margin of victory on this Tuesday than on any other night.