Biden takes command of Democratic race

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE was poised to cement his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after he scored a major victory in Michigan over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Bernie Sanders warns of 'nightmare scenario' if Trump refuses election results Harris joins women's voter mobilization event also featuring Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda MORE (I-Vt.).

The victory followed on the heels of Biden's two other wins in Mississippi and Missouri on Tuesday. Biden also won Idaho, which Sanders had won in his 2016 primary bid against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Poll: 51 percent of voters want to abolish the electoral college MORE, while North Dakota and Washington are yet to be determined.

Speaking at his campaign’s Philadelphia headquarters on Tuesday night, Biden all but declared himself the Democratic presidential nominee. He thanked Sanders and his supporters for their “tireless energy and their passion,” noting that they all “share a common goal” in defeating Trump. 

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“This campaign is taking off and I believe we’re going to do well from this point on,” Biden said. “Take nothing for granted. I want to earn every single vote from every single state.”

The Vermont senator was not expected to deliver remarks on the primary results on Tuesday night.

Biden’s win in Michigan, a delegate-rich state and critical general election battleground, was particularly crushing for Sanders, who unexpectedly carried the state in the 2016 Democratic primary despite polls showing Clinton with an outsize lead in the Wolverine State.

The Vermont senator and his aides have long argued that his populist message would resonate among working-class voters in Michigan and help deliver the state for Democrats in the November general election after President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE flipped it in 2016.

In recent days, he has acknowledged that a win in Michigan is “very, very important,” though he has stopped short of calling it a must-win contest for his campaign.

Biden’s primary wins on Tuesday were the latest in a remarkable comeback for the former vice president, whose campaign appeared on the brink of collapse less than two weeks ago.

But a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary late last month and 10 subsequent wins on Super Tuesday helped him reclaim the front-runner status he has enjoyed for much of the past year.

Three of his centrist rivals — former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Hillicon Valley: FBI, DHS warn that foreign hackers will likely spread disinformation around election results | Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day | Trump to meet with Republican state officials on tech liability shield Facebook takes down Chinese network targeting Philippines, Southeast Asia and the US MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSocial media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates MORE (D-Minn.) and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons in Florida so they can vote Top Democratic super PAC launches Florida ad blitz after Bloomberg donation The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Latest with the COVID-19 relief bill negotiations MORE — endorsed Biden after exiting the race, allowing the former vice president to consolidate the support of moderate voters who remain wary of nominating a self-described democratic socialist in Sanders.

Biden is likely to seize on his win in Michigan to bolster his argument that he is the candidate best suited to take on Trump in November. The state was among three Rust Belt states, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that Trump carried in 2016 and that Democrats see as vital to winning back the White House this year.

The victory on Tuesday could allow Biden to claim a mandate from voters in the Wolverine State and may bolster his campaign throughout the Midwest, including in Ohio, which holds its primary next week.

It’s also likely to raise questions about Sanders’s future in the primary race. Biden is expected to widen his delegate lead on Tuesday and appears poised to continue his winning streak in the coming weeks.

In Florida, which holds its primary next Tuesday, recent polls show Biden leading Sanders by double digits. And in Arizona, another state that holds its primary next week, Biden was holding a 28-point advantage over Sanders, according to a survey released on Monday by the Phoenix-based firm OH Predictive Insights.

The last 10 days also represent a stark turnaround for Sanders, who emerged as the primary race’s early front-runner after top finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, where the first three nominating contests were held.

South Carolina, however, posed an insurmountable challenge for the Vermont senator, as black voters and moderates came out in force for Biden in the primary.

Those same struggles manifested once again last week as Biden captured wins in North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and seven other Super Tuesday states. 

Black voters, often seen as the backbone of the Democratic Party, also helped deliver Biden a big victory in Mississippi on Tuesday.

Updated: March 13 at 1:28 a.m.