Mar 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Super Tuesday through the eyes of former contenders

Former Sec. of State John Kerry, Gov. Michael Dukakis and Sen. Gary Hart reflected on the drama of their Super Tuesday experiences in interviews with "Axios on HBO," which aired Sunday.

Driving the news: Democrats are at risk of hosting a contested convention this summer. Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading the delegate count, with former Vice President Joe Biden trailing closely after winning South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

What they're saying:

Gary Hart on the 1984 campaign: "It was not uncommon to wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning and reach for the phone book next to the bed to determine what city and what state I was in. I think we had chartered an aircraft to get into three or four states every day for two weeks."

  • "It was quite a hectic period. But as I say at least in six of those states it paid off. It was a phenomenal circumstance in which, in the space of two weeks, I was almost able to win the nomination."

Michael Dukakis on the 1988 campaign: "I think there were about five or six of us that were competitive as we went into Super Tuesday. ... Now, we knew that it was probably impossible to sweep Super Tuesday. There are just too many states. ... We wanted to win Maryland, Florida, Texas and the state of Washington. And fortunately, we won Maryland, Florida, Texas and the state of Washington."

  • "There's no question that winning those four states, among others, was a very important part of my getting to the point where people finally began saying, 'Maybe this guy Dukakis does have some national appeal. He's not just a regional candidate.'"

John Kerry on the 2004 campaign: "I'd won New Hampshire. I'd won Iowa. I had a head of steam. And then went into Super Tuesday where I wound up winning nine out of 10 contests. ... It's a very overpowering and humbling moment."

  • "I think whether you win or you don't win, the privilege of participating in that effort is unique. It's a really important day because it will define what the fight is gonna be in the days ahead."

Go deeper

Biden projected to win Massachusetts Democratic primary

Photo: Jeremy Hogan / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Joe Biden is projected to win the Massachusetts Democratic primary with 91 delegates at stake, according to AP.

Why it matters: It's a big win for Biden and a huge blow to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is in danger of falling to third behind Sen. Bernie Sanders in her home state.

AP: Sanders can't match Biden's Super Tuesday delegate haul

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in Charleston, South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden won more delegates than Sen. Bernie Sanders and the rest of the 2020 candidates who competed in Super Tuesday contests, the AP counted on Friday.

The big picture: Projected Super Tuesday wins for Biden included North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota and Alabama — while projected wins for Sanders included California and Colorado.

Sanders projected to win California Democratic primary

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders walk onstage during his campaign rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 1, 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to win the California Democratic primary, the crown jewel of Super Tuesday with 415 delegates at stake, according to AP.

The big picture: Sanders was heavily favored to win California, despite losing in the 2016 primary to Hillary Clinton by about 7 points. Super Tuesday was largely dominated up until the California results by Joe Biden, who won sweeping victories across the South.