WHITE HOUSE - The day after Super Tuesday voting positioned two Democrats to have the best chance to face him in November’s general election, President Donald Trump gave former Vice President Joe Biden credit for “an incredible comeback.”
Biden won nine of the 14 states — including the second most populous, Texas — while Sen. Bernie Sanders is on track to claim four more, including California, the state with the most delegates.
After voting on Tuesday, Maine is still a toss-up.
The president on Wednesday criticized Sen. Elizabeth Warren for not dropping out of the race to help Sanders.
“She was really a spoiler,” Trump told reporters at the end of a coronavirus task force meeting at the White House with airline executives. “She was very selfish.”
Trump professed not to care about the continued internal battle among the Democrats, although it is evident he would rather face Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, rather than the more politically moderate Biden.
“We’re just waiting to find out who we’re running against,” he said. “I think Joe has an easier path right now, believe it or not.”
Trump’s running, real-time commentary on the opposition party’s primary battle “does sort of go to the really unprecedented character of this president,” noted Thomas Schwartz, a professor of history and political science at Vanderbilt University.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Warren, who finished third in her home state of Massachusetts, cost Sanders that state and others in Tuesday’s balloting.
Trump said the “Democratic establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders AGAIN,” referencing candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropping out Monday and endorsing Biden on the eve of Super Tuesday.
Trump’s Twitter campaign to rile Democratic divisions and promote Sanders is unsurprising because the president is well-versed “in knowing that chaos helps him as the incumbent, and that a Sanders candidacy likely helps him," said Laura Brown, director of the graduate school of political management at The George Washington University. "Because so many individuals would be against, in this country, voting for a self-described socialist Democrat."
Many Sanders supporters felt their candidate was badly treated during the 2016 campaign by the Democratic establishment that they viewed as rigging the nominating process on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and view party elites as trying again to prevent Sanders from capturing this year’s nomination.
“The Trump campaign will stoke that grievance, because I think it hopes not that Bernie Sanders' supporters necessarily will vote for Trump, but that they'll stay home,” Schwartz told VOA.
Biden, attempting to thwart Sanders on his left, received a further huge boost on Wednesday when former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on television commercials, dropped out.
Bloomberg’s only Super Tuesday victory was in American Samoa’s party caucus.
“He made a fool out of himself,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
Earlier, Trump quickly reacted on social media to the announced demise of Bloomberg’s campaign, saying, “I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost,” the president said.
Trump told reporters Bloomberg would now pour money into Biden’s effort “to try to save face.”
Bloomberg, one of America’s wealthiest individuals, is endorsing Biden, and is expected to lavishly contribute to the Democrats’ effort to deny Trump a second term.
“He’s a spiteful guy. He’s very upset,” Trump said Wednesday.
Trump has repeatedly heckled Bloomberg on Twitter and at political rallies, labeling him “Mini Mike” for his short stature, as the political rivalry between the two New Yorkers deepened.
Patsy Widakuswara and Jesusemen Oni contributed to this report.