(Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopefuls spread out across South Carolina on Thursday ahead of the state’s primary election on Saturday – their first big test with African-American voters.
But several also headed to some of the Super Tuesday regions, the 14-state March 3 contest that offers the largest single-day haul of delegates in the party’s White House nominating battle.
Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg announced a massive ad buy and get-out-the-vote effort in California, a Super Tuesday state.
The candidates press on with an intense period of campaigning after several criticized Republican President Donald Trump in appearances on Wednesday over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to numerous countries, including the United States.
QUESTIONS ON TRUMP’S VIRUS POLICY
Four candidates attacked Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak at a televised CNN town hall event on Wednesday in South Carolina, shortly after Trump held a news conference saying the risk from the virus was “very low” in the United States.
Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.
Biden lamented the Trump administration’s cuts in funding to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’ve got good scientists and I just want the president to get on the same page as the scientists,” Biden said.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, referring to Pence leading the coronavirus response effort, said: “Usually you might put a medical professional in charge.”
Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, when told about Pence’s appointment, and Trump’s assertion that his team was doing a “great job”, said sarcastically: “I feel so much better”.
IT’S SOUTH CAROLINA, BUT SUPER TUESDAY IN THEIR MINDS
Despite South Carolina being next, candidates are also focused on Super Tuesday. Buttigieg announced a major get-out-the-vote effort in Super Tuesday states, including a California digital ad program and more than 350 mobilization events to reach voters across the state.
Bloomberg, who is skipping the first four nominating states, including South Carolina, holds three events in the Super Tuesday states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Thursday.
The frontrunner, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, will sandwich an event in Virginia, another March 3 state, between events in South Carolina.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren will also be in Texas before returning to South Carolina on Friday.
Reporting by Tim Reid