Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she expects to have a strong showing in states...

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she expects to have a strong showing in states with diverse populations. Credit: Bloomberg / Joe Buglewicz

The Democratic primary's moderates jockeyed for position Sunday, promising strength as they took aim at progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an apparent front-runner, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose self-funded ad blitz and rising poll numbers are drawing support away from the current crop of contenders.

Candidates criticized Sanders and Bloomberg on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, as attention turned to the Nevada caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 22, and the South Carolina primary, on Feb. 29.

Former Vice President Joseph Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would eke out a victory soon as the nominating contests moved to states with more diverse populations than Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden finished in fourth place in the Iowa caucuses, and fifth place last week in the New Hampshire primary.

Biden drew comparisons to President Bill Clinton's performance in the 1992 Democratic primary. That year Clinton didn't win his first contest until the Georgia primary, on March 3, a week before the so-called "Super Tuesday."

Noting that Clinton had lost a number of contests before he won one in 1992, Biden said on NBC, "I don't plan on taking that long. But we're just getting to the meat of getting to the number of delegates you need to be able to win this election. And I'm confident we're going to be in good shape."

Biden also took aim at Sanders, saying his rival has "never gotten anything done."

"He's been talking about health care, Medicare for All, universal health care, for 35 years. Nothing's happened. I helped get passed Obamacare. I helped move it forward. I got the votes."

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He also said Bloomberg will come under fire for race relations, telling Todd, "$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can't erase your record. You're going to focus on him. His position on issues relating to the African American community, from stop-and-frisk to the way he talked about Obama."

A nationwide Quinnipiac poll released last week showed that African Americans were turning to Bloomberg, and away from Biden, after his weak finish in Iowa. 

Biden's support among African Americans had fallen from 49% to 27%, in just two weeks, according to the poll. Bloomberg, who has not yet appeared on state ballots but spent more than $300 million of his own personal fortune on the race — mostly on television ads — had 22%. Sanders had 19%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), had 8%, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had 4%, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) had zero.

Klobuchar and Buttigieg said Sunday that as the field of candidates winnows, voters will give their campaigns a fresh look. In turn, their support among African American, Hispanic and minority voters will rise.

Buttigieg and Sanders lead the candidates in delegate counts.

Buttigieg, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, predicted his numbers will rise as more voters start paying attention to the race. Last year, he said, many voters were busy and "saying, come back to me when there are more than 20 of you." Now, he said, the voters "are taking a different and new look at the candidates."

He continued, "now that we’ve demonstrated that we’ve been able to gain support in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, as we come to more racially diverse states like here in Nevada and South Carolina, many of the voters of color that I'm talking to are focused in particular on one thing: defeating Donald Trump."

Klobuchar also pledged to win minority voters' support, citing millions of dollars in campaign contributions that will be used to produce ads across the country. "That’s gonna be on me," she said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "I need people to get to know me. I’ve always gotten high support in all my elections with the Hispanic and African American communities in my state. That’s a start.”

She said the pundits should discount her prior polling that reflects a lack of support from minorities. "Because my name identification in states outside of the early few states was not that high, simply because I didn’t have the money of Mike Bloomberg to run more ads during your show than I am on being interviewed on your show. I get that. That’s what happens."

Tom Steyer, appearing on CBS' "Face The Nation," said he was hoping for a top-two finish in South Carolina, and said he had put together a "grassroots" campaign.

Also Sunday, Biden and Buttigieg criticized Sanders' supporters for attacking Culinary Workers Union employees, who had faced online threats after criticizing Sanders' Medicare for All plan.

Biden said of Sanders, "He may not be responsible for it but he has some accountability. ... If any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat [out] disown them."

Buttigieg said on CNN, “It’s really disturbing to see the Culinary Union attacked when these are workers who have stood up and fought for, among other things, good health care plans. ... They're not interested in Washington taking away their choice."

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