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Mike Bloomberg greets supporters during a stop at one of his campaign offices in Manassas, Virginia. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg wants everyone to know he has no intention of getting elbowed out of the presidential race, even as fellow moderates are dropping out and endorsing Joe Biden.

The big picture: I spent yesterday with Bloomberg as he geared up for Super Tuesday — the first time his name is on the ballot.

  • Campaign officials and Bloomberg himself indicated he's not about to get behind the former vice president — not before his unorthodox and very, very expensive bid gets its first real test drive.

He’s already poured more than $500 million into his campaign, and despite Biden’s triumphant sweep in South Carolina and big-name endorsement Monday, Bloomberg continues to say he is the best candidate to unite the country and beat President Trump.

Between the lines: He's spending Super Tuesday in Florida, which doesn't vote 'til March 17.

  • I'll be with Bloomberg again today as he travels through Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach Florida, where he'll watch tonight's returns.
  • Later this week, he's supposed to hit the swing states of Michigan (which votes March 10), Pennsylvania (which votes April 28), and back to Florida (a sign of how vital he sees that state).

What he's saying: In a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington yesterday, Bloomberg railed against Sen. Bernie Sanders for his stance on Israel and for calling AIPAC's platform racist, telling a cheering crowd that Sanders is "dead wrong."

  • At a small event in Manassas, Virginia, the former New York mayor told the crowd that he has "won three elections so far, and I don’t plan to start losing now.”
  • He added that he talked with Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar shortly after they dropped out of the race and thought “they behaved themselves well," and that he "felt sorry for them. But I’m in it to win it.”
  • During his last Monday stop, a Fox News town hall in Virginia before flying to Miami, Florida, he predicted "the most likely scenario for the Democratic party is that nobody has the majority," and it ends in a contested convention. "It doesn't even have to be one of the two leading candidates," Bloomberg said.
  • Pressed on whether he'd potentially be stealing votes from the candidate with the most delegates, he said: "The rules say you can swap votes or make deals. Then you can swap votes and make deals! And if you don't like the rules, don't play."

The response: Voters in Virginia offered mixed responses when asked if they think Bloomberg should suspend his campaign if he performs poorly in Super Tuesday contests.

  • "Honestly, I do, if Biden has anywhere near as strong a showing as he did in South Carolina," said Jon Wist, 64, who dropped by a Bloomberg event donning a "Pete 2020" shirt. "That would be the right thing. Pete did the right thing."
  • But Jeniffer Green, 53, told me she won't support Joe Biden regardless of what Bloomberg does. "I really hope he stays in. I mean, obviously he can afford to," Green said. "If he gets out, then whatever Joe says is going to be the law, and he won't be challenged on anything. And then it's gonna be Bernie or Joe — it's going to be far left or middle."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

3 hours ago - World

Biden huddles with European allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin call

Putin in the Kremlin. Photo: Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik via Getty

President Biden will seek to convince Russia's Vladimir Putin in a phone call Tuesday that the price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden held a call on Ukraine this evening with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America's "unwavering support."