Michigan Primary Tracker: Joe Biden gets testy in Detroit

Follow our Primary Tracker for updates on Michigan's March 10 primary.

This tracker was updated Tuesday, March 10

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Tuesday morning got into a testy exchange with a worker at an auto factory as Michigan voters headed to the polls to decide the state’s closely watched primary.  

As filmed by reporters traveling with him, Biden snapped back when a worker at an under-construction Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant accused him of “actively trying to diminish our Second Amendment rights” and take away firearms. 

“You’re full of sh*t,” Biden responded, twice shushing an aide who tried to cut off the interaction. 

“I support the Second Amendment,” Biden said. He told the worker he personally owns guns but questions the need for large ammunition magazines and “AR-14” (sic) semi-automatic rifles.

Biden was heading to Ohio next, but his wife remained in Michigan campaigning on his behalf. She held a morning event in Lansing and was scheduled at The Ferris Wheel in Flint for a 2:30 p.m. event. 

Bernie Sanders, who won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary in 2016 and is again targeting the state, remained in Metro Detroit on Tuesday morning. 

Sanders was not scheduled to make any public appearances in Michigan but his campaign announced shortly before noon that he would visit polling places in Detroit and Dearborn Heights. 

Like Biden, Sanders is scheduled to be in Ohio by Tuesday evening. That state votes next week.


Cory Booker to join Joe Biden in Detroit

Add U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to the growing list of recent presidential campaign rivals now backing former president Joe Biden for the Democratic Party nomination. 

Booker endorsed Biden on Monday morning and is expected to join him later in the day for Michigan campaign stops in Flint and Detroit. 

"The answer to hatred & division is to reignite our spirit of common purpose," Booker, who has family ties to Detroit, wrote on Twitter. "@JoeBiden won’t only win - he’ll  show there's more that unites us than divides us."

Biden is planning a series of Monday events in Michigan ahead of the Tuesday primary. 

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who had also run for president but dropped out of the race in December, is also expected at Biden's evening rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit. 

Bernie Sanders, who barnstormed Michigan this weekend and drew more than 10,000 fans to a Sunday rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is attempting to repeat in a state he won four years ago.

Sanders is set to hold a "coronavirus public health roundtable" near the Detroit airport on Monday. He'll also join Fox News for a televised 6:30 p.m. town hall at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.


Kamala Harris backs Biden, will join him in Detroit

Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary is only heating up with a series of high-profile endorsements and star-studded events ahead of the Tuesday election. 

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California on Sunday endorsed Joe Biden and said she’ll join him at a Monday evening rally in Detroit. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., meanwhile, endorsed Bernie Sanders on Sunday morning and was set to join him at a rally in Grand Rapids.

Harris, who ran for president as well but ended her campaign in December, clashed with Biden over busing and school segregation in a televised Debate but said Sunday he is a “public servant who has always worked for the best of who we are as a nation.”

"One of the things that we need right now is we need a leader who really does care about the people and how can therefore unify the people, and I believe Joe can do that," Harris said in a video statement.

Biden is scheduled to hold a campaign event Monday at a not-yet-announced location in Grand Rapids before his 7 p.m. rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit. 

Jackson, an icon of the civil rights movement who won Michigan’s Democratic caucus when he ran for president in 1988, praised Sanders in a lengthy statement and is set to join the Vermont senator at a 12:30 p.m. campaign rally at the Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids. 

“With the exception of Native Americans, African Americans are the people who are most behind socially and economically in the United States and our needs are not moderate,” Jackson said. 

“A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path.  That’s why I choose to endorse him today.”

Freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is also expected to join Sanders at a Sunday evening rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Sanders has been barnstorming Michigan since Friday, when an estimated 6,071 supporters rallied with him at the TCF Center in Detroit. He held campaign events Saturday in Dearborn and Flint.

Friday, March 6

Bernie Sanders plans four rallies in Michigan

Bernie Sanders has added a fourth rally this weekend ahead of Michigan’s primary Tuesday, which has become crucial for his campaign.

After a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, Sanders has lost momentum in his campaign to former Vice President Joe Biden and, as the Washington Post reports, is going all-in on Michigan to save his campaign.

Sanders canceled a rally in Mississippi planned for Friday to add another event in Michigan.

The weekend with Bernie starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the TCF Center in Detroit. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, Detroit Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield and civil rights scholar Cornel West also will speak.

Other events include:

  • 11 a.m. Saturday at Salina Intermediate School in Dearborn
  • 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids
  • 6 p.m. Sunday at the University of Michigan Diag in Ann Arbor

​Thursday, March 5

Warren drops out, cancels Lansing rally

It appears Elizabeth Warren will no longer campaign in Lansing on Friday as planned. In fact, the Democratic Massachusetts senator is no longer an active candidate in Michigan's March 10 primary.

The New York Times reports Warren is formally ending her presidential campaign Thursday,  dropping out of what is now a largely two-way race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. 

Tulsi Gabbard continues to campaign and visited Detroit on Tuesday but has failed to make a mark in other states that have voted.

Warren was one of the first candidates to hire staff in Michigan and had built a network of volunteers here. But her disappointing showing in the early primaries was punctuated Tuesday by a third-place finish in her home state of Massachusetts.

Warren rallied supporters that night in Detroit and was scheduled to campaign at Lansing Community College on Friday. 

Michigan voters who already cast an absentee ballot but want to change their vote can do so by spoiling their ballot and requesting a new one. That option is available in-person at a clerk's office through March 9 at 4 p.m.

Whitmer endorses Biden for president

LANSING — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed Joe Biden for president on Thursday, giving the former vice president a boost against top rival Bernie Sanders less than a week before the March 10 primary.

As the Democratic governor of a battleground state, Whitmer was a coveted endorsement. She carried Michigan by nearly 10 points in 2018, two years after Trump narrowly won the state en route to the White House.

"I think the blueprint from 2018: showing up, focusing on the dinner table issues and getting things done is exactly what Joe Biden represents," Whitmer said on MSNBC. "And that's why he's got my enthusiastic support and my vote on Tuesday."

Whitmer praised the “Obama-Biden administration” for the Affordable Care Act, noting it allowed Michigan to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 650,000 residents. 

And "when the chips were down, it was the Obama-Biden administration that stepped up and helped the auto industry," she said, referencing the government bailout accelerated in 2009.

Whitmer has welcomed candidates to Michigan but had appeared content to sit out the once-crowded primary. As of Friday,  a spokeswoman told Bridge Magazine the governor had "no plans to endorse before" the March 10 election. 

But “a lot of things have changed in the last 72 hours," Whitmer told reporters Wednesday following Biden's big Super Tuesday and the exodus from the race by Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Mike Bloomberg.

Whitmer had connections to the top three candidates left in the race.

Sanders backed Abdul El-Sayed over Whitmer in Michigan’s 2018 gubernatorial primary, but he endorsed Whitmer in the general election and rallied with Whitmer in Ann Arbor that fall. 

Biden endorsed Whitmer and campaigned with her and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in Southfield, where they greeted customers at a Leo's Coney Island. 

Elizabeth Warren, who rallied in Detroit on Tuesday night and remains in the race, endorsed Whitmer and lent her name to at least one fundraising email for the campaign.

Wednesday, March 4

Bloomberg drops out after losing Super Tuesday

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that he is dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary race. 

The announcement came after Bloomberg failed to win a single state on Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states held primaries. Bloomberg had already spent nearly $12 million on advertising in Michigan ahead of the primary on March 10, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, and around $560 million total

But chances were slim that Bloomberg would carry Michigan. He was polling in a distant third place behind front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders according to a Detroit News/WDIV poll released Tuesday night.

“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump – because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

“I’m a believer in using data to inform decisions. After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible – and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists.”

He urged his supporters to back Biden — the leading moderate candidate left in the race — arguing that he has the best chance to beat Donald Trump in November. 

Biden brings momentum from Super Tuesday wins

Joe Biden had a big Super Tuesday and appears to have momentum heading into Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary on March 10. 

Riding high after endorsements by former candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke, Biden won at least nine states (and may win a tenth) that voted Tuesday and is projected to capture a majority of the delegates that were up for grabs. 

Bernie Sanders won three states and is very likely to win delegate-rich California, where results are still coming in. Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren each picked up some delegates but fell far behind the front-runners.

Michigan is expected to be a major focus for the candidates over the next week, as highlighted by Tuesday night campaign stops from Warren and Tulsi Gabbard

Biden enters the week as the Michigan favorite, according to a new poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV that shows the former vice president leading Sanders 29 percent to 22.5 percent. 

That 6.5-point edge exceeds the 4-point margin of error, but there’s still “great fluidity” in the race, pollster Richard Czuba told The News.

The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted Friday through Tuesday. 

Sanders trailed in early Michigan polls four years ago but ended up narrowly beating Hillary Clinton here after barnstorming college campuses and dominating the youth vote. 

Sanders is expected to hold campaign rallies on Friday in Detroit and Sunday in Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, March 3

Bloomberg rolls out ‘Mike’s plan for Michigan’

Mike Bloomberg wants to boost funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, set national clean water standards for PFAS chemicals and create a national strategy to control Asian carp and other invasive species, his campaign said Tuesday. 

The former New York City mayor released “Mike’s plan for Michigan” ahead of the state’s March 10 Democratic presidential primary, proposing a series of new initiatives while highlighting other elements of his platform with specific relevance to the state. 

And yes, he’s running a related television ad (Bloomberg has already spent more than $11.8 million on Michigan ads, more than all Democrats and Republicans combined in 2016). 

Bloomberg’s Michigan plan proposes $475 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $300 million cleanup program that Republican President Donald Trump tried to cut multiple times before embracing it last year. 

As Bridge Magazine has reported, Democrats including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have also outlined plans to combat PFAS contamination or otherwise improve water infrastructure.

In a nod to Michigan’s strong union presence, surrogates also touted Bloomberg’s pledge to ensure collective bargaining rights for workers and oppose the spread of so-called Right to Work laws like the kind signed by former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012. 

Six years ago, Bloomberg spent $3 million on Michigan ads promoting Snyder. He called the Republican governor “an extremely competent guy who took on the unions to get Detroit and Michigan going in the right direction. And he was re-elected despite being attacked by the unions.”

Bloomberg surrogates did not have an immediate response to those old comments. 

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, the Battle Creek Democrat who lost to Snyder in 2014, is now backing Bloomberg and said his environmental policies would help create “good, union jobs.”

“I trust Mike when it comes to fighting for protecting working people, and also helping America lead in tackling the climate crisis,” Schauer said.

Monday, March 2

Bloomberg to campaign in Macomb on Thursday

Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg is scheduled to campaign in Macomb County on Thursday, his campaign announced Monday. Additional details have not yet been announced. 

It would be Bloomberg’s third visit to Michigan since he joined the race in late November. The former New York mayor spoke at a Detroit office opening in December and at Eastern Market in early February. 

Bloomberg has been far more visible on Michigan television, where he’s reportedly already outspent the entire 2016 primary field.

The billionaire businessman has so far spent nearly $11.8 million to run more than 50 ads in the state, according to the latest tally from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Democratic and Republican candidates combined to spend $10.6 million on TV advertising in Michigan four years ago, according to the nonprofit.

How to change absentee ballot

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will no longer host a rally Tuesday night in Macomb County after dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary on Sunday.

Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar exited the race after disappointing finishes in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

So what if you already voted for one of them? Or other candidates who have dropped out ahead of the March 10 Michigan primary? 

Fear not. More than 427,000 Michiganders have cast their ballot in the presidential primary due to no-reason absentee voting. To change absentee votes, send written, signed request to your local clerk for them to “spoil” your ballot and send you a new one in the mail. The request must arrive before 2 p.m. on March 7. If you want to vote at the polls instead, say so in your letter to the clerk. 

You can also tell your clerk to spoil your ballot in person until 4 p.m. on March 9, the day before the primary. While you’re there, you can get a new absentee ballot or tell your clerk you’ll vote at the polls. 

If you decide you want to change your absentee vote on Election Day, you’re out of luck. Officials can begin counting absentee ballots once the polls open at 7 a.m., so it’s too late to change your vote on March 10. 

Get answers to more questions on what you need to know to vote in Michigan’s presidential primary here

Monday, March 2

Warren, Gabbard set to visit Michigan on Super Tuesday

Democratic presidential candidates are wasting little time transitioning from Super Tuesday states to Michigan, which is expected to be one of the most heavily contested of the six states with a March 10 primary election.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are both set to campaign in Detroit on March 3 as Super Tuesday results roll in.

Warren will cast her own ballot in Massachusetts before traveling to Michigan for an evening event at Detroit’s Eastern Market, where doors will open to the public at 5:15 p.m.

Gabbard will be just down the block at The Eastern, an industrial event space at the northern edge of Eastern Market. Doors to her event open at 6:30 p.m.

Expect more candidate visits and announcements in the run-up to Michigan’s March 10 primary. 

Elizabeth Warren backs Line 5 shutdown

Add Elizabeth Warren to the list of Democratic presidential hopefuls backing calls to shut down Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. 

“Michigan's Line 5 pipeline is a threat to millions who rely on the Great Lakes for clean water and a healthy economy,” the Massachusetts senator said in a Feb. 26 tweet

“My plans for a #GreenNewDeal will rebuild our infrastructure and create over 10 million union jobs. Let's #ShutDownLine5 and build a 100% clean energy future.”

Warren was the fourth Democratic presidential candidate to join the Line 5 debate. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called for a shutdown in July 2019, while two other candidates who have since dropped out — Pete Buttigieg and Jay Inslee — also did so.

As Bridge Magazine reported last month, most of the Democratic presidential candidates have laid out aggressive climate change plans that touch on water issues, but few have laid out concrete plans for the Great Lakes. That could change in the coming week as candidates appeal to Michigan voters ahead of the March 10 primary. 

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Bryan Watson
Mon, 03/02/2020 - 1:30pm

If a vote is cast for a candidate who suspended their campaign, and the vote is not changed, is it counted? How is it reported? Does it have any effect?

Matthew Greedy
Wed, 03/04/2020 - 10:27pm

Joe Biden will lose to Trump because

Mr. Biden helped deregulated the banking industry help which led to the 2008 meltdown.

Mr. Biden made it harder for individuals to escape their credit card debts.

Mr. Biden inflated College prices through no risk student loans.

Mr. Biden protected his state of Delaware status as a corporate bankruptcy hub.

Mr. Biden help make it so corporations could place their profits in Delaware-based holding companies to avoid paying taxes in the places where they operate.

Mr. Biden helped Delaware create a loophole allowing banks to sell insurance.

Mr. Biden helped pass the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act which opened the floodgates to an era of corporate consolidation across the nation.

Mr. Biden voted for the Financial Services Modernization Act, which repealed the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law barring banks from owning securities and insurance businesses. By 2016, there were almost 5,000 fewer banks in the United States than there were two decades earlier, and the 10 largest firms controlled half of all banking assets.

Mr. Biden help predatory card it card companies get stated like MBNA who if a debtor missed a car payment to pay a credit card on time, MBNA would raise the person’s interest rate anyway, a practice known as universal default—thereby increasing the likelihood the person would miss future payments.

1980 and 1997, the number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy jumped more than 300 percent, affecting 1.3 million households annually cause by accumulating credit card fees, hospital bills, student loans, and mortgages that were placing the squeeze on middle-class families so bankruptcy was not an escape hatch; it was a lifeline. So Mr. Biden and congressional colleagues did not want to look into efforts to curb bankruptcies by looking at how people were getting into debt. Instead, he helped his banking buddies. The credit card companies help create laws to make it harder to declare bankruptcy.

Joe Biden, in 1976, was once at the forefront of a movement against busing students to desegregate schools — even battling against Republican Sen. Ed Brooke, the only black senator at the time, over the issue — while he paid lip service to the desegregation movement.

Biden drafted the infamous 1994 crime bill, driving factors behind mass incarceration and the disproportionate imprisonment of people of color.
Mr. Biden led the charge for Democrats in their war on crime and drugs.
From 2001 through his time in the White House, is that of a senator bullish about the push to war who helped sell the Bush administration’s pitch to the American public. He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press. In the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction. He was a vice president who left an unmistakable imprint on President Barack Obama’s backing of a dictator in Iraq.

Donald Trump’s fake populism where he pretended to bash Wall Street and pretended that he would clean up corporate corruption and political corruption never happened he turn the swamp into a sewer. Donald Trump, as we all know, is a huckster and a traitor, who the Senate should have removed from office for his crime against the country and breaking his oath to the constitution.

So, Mr. Biden has not shown himself to be a traitor but he is a huckster. If Mr. Biden gets the candidacy, Mr. Trump and the Republicans will not hold back and will show Mr. Biden’s connection to the swamp that he was a part of and so he will have no chance of beating Donald Trump. The only way that the Democrats could beat him is to energize new voters, enough voters to end the political rot that has infected both parties. A choice for Mr. Biden means four more years of Donald Trump.

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 5:48pm

You have created a long list of actions that describes Mr. Biden's political ethos, but with this list you describe why blind loyalty to the Party is so valuable to the Party establishment.
A vote for Senator Sanders would surely send a chilling message to that Party establishment, but if Bernie is the Party nominee much of that establishment will not be there next January. If you doubt this ,look at how the Republican Party has changed since 2016 and how many of the Republican establishment are now working for the media and even some for the Democrat establishment.

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 12:47pm

Someone else has been reading "Mother Jones", aka "the most dangerous woman in america". :)

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 11:09am

Another true act of courage! Wait until primary race is all but settled and then endorse the winner! Does anyone out there believe Biden was her first choice?

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 8:37pm

Can you believe a candidate telling a voter "You're full of s**t". And all this after Biden's Texas remarks that Beto O'Rourke would be back as Joe's choice to run the department of gun control. Beto, the same one who said "We are coming for your AR-15's, your AK-47's. Hint to Beto, the similarity between an AR-15 and an AK-47 is like night and day. One is a true assault rifle, the other is a varmint plinker.

middle of the mit
Sat, 03/14/2020 - 2:07am

So Arjay,
Could you tell us which is the assault rifle? I got the impression that the AR-15, the American version, was the assault rifle. Is that the impression you were trying to imply?

Unless you think Russians put out a better rifle than Americans do.

And since you think that AR-15s are varmint plinkers, could a city folk like you tell some redneck like me, what we are allowed to go into the woods with and hunt varmints? LOL!!!!

I can tell you this. AS someone who has gone into the woods to hunt for varmints, you still only get 5 shots. If you go into the woods outfitted like anyone on NRA TV did? YOU will pulled over! You WILL have your ammo and gun confiscated.

Better know the hunting laws in your State before you go hunting.

My friend, you are NOT ready to go hunting!