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Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg's campaign is sounding the alarm that Bernie Sanders will soon amass an unsurmountable delegate lead if the Democratic field stays split — and took the extraordinary step of suggesting laggards should drop out.

What they're saying: Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's top strategist, said: "The fact is if the state of this race remains status quo — with Biden, Pete and Amy in the race on Super Tuesday — Bernie is likely to open up a delegate lead that seems nearly impossible to overcome."

  • "I don’t think many people understand the dire circumstances here."

Why it matters: Based on every national poll, plus steady access to money, Sanders is the indisputable — if underappreciated — frontrunner.

The Bloomberg campaign got high-profile validation of its theory:

  • David Plouffe, Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, tweeted in response to Nate Silver's delegate projections through Super Tuesday — which show Sanders with 41%, followed by Bloomberg and Joe Biden with 18% each.
  • "If this happens, Sanders would have a pledged delegate lead he’ll never relinquish."

In a "State of the Race" memo to Bloomberg gurus Sheekey and Howard Wolfson, senior adviser Mitch Stewart and states director Dan Kanninen argue:

  • "If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from [Bloomberg]."

Read the memo.

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Go deeper

4 mins ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's

A Ben & Jerry's store in Yavne, Israel. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry's ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned the move by Ben & Jerry's will encourage other international companies to take similar steps to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank settlements. A classified Foreign Ministry cable, seen by Axios, makes clear the government wants to send a message.