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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

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The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

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The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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Biden's big Saudi reset

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President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.