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Biden lands backing of former rivals Klobuchar, Buttigieg ahead of Super Tuesday

epa08209665 US presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar (L) talks with voters gathered for a campaign event at the Nashua Country Club in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA, 10 February 2020. The first state primary in the United States' presidential election will be held in New Hampshire on 11 February 2020. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

March 2 (Reuters) - Former Vice President Joe Biden's quest for the Democratic presidential nomination was set to pick up the endorsements of two former rivals on Monday, as Amy Klobuchar became the third candidate to end their campaign in three days.

By Jarrett Renshaw and Sharon Bernstein

March 2 (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination was set to pick up the endorsements of two former rivals on Monday, as Amy Klobuchar became the third candidate to end their campaign in three days.

Klobuchar, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, will announce the suspension of her White House campaign in Dallas where she will publicly back Biden, a campaign aide said. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also plans to endorse Biden the day after ending his campaign, a top adviser said.

A reinvigorated Biden, fresh off a resounding victory in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, is heading into Super Tuesday with a boost and aiming for a strong showing against U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the national front-runner and a democratic socialist from Vermont.

The Super Tuesday contests offer the biggest one-day haul of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the party’s nomination at its national convention in July, with about 1,357 delegates, or nearly one-third of the total number, up for grabs.

Billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg makes his first appearance on primary ballots in Super Tuesday states, where he has bet hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money to boost his campaign. Bloomberg and Biden have emerged as the main contenders for the votes of moderate Democrats.

Five candidates remain for the nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November election, down from more than 20 earlier in the race.

Buttigieg, who entered the Democratic presidential race as a relative unknown, ended his White House bid on Sunday. Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer gave up his campaign on Saturday night after a third-place finish in the Southern state in which he had invested most heavily.

BIDEN SEEKS MOMENTUM

Biden’s high-stakes triumph in South Carolina, where his campaign had said his popularity with black voters would propel him to victory after early disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, helped winnow the field.

But it was not immediately clear who would immediately benefit from the departures of Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Steyer. A Morning Consult poll taken Feb. 23-27, for example, before Buttigieg exited the race, showed that 21% of his supporters named Sanders as their second choice, 19% picked Biden, another 19% chose U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and 17% favored Bloomberg.

Biden still lags his rivals in spending and organization in Super Tuesday states and beyond, but his campaign said on Sunday it had raised more than $10 million over the preceding two days.

The endorsements could also lead to a boost in attention ahead of Super Tuesday, when 14 states – California, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Vermont, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina and Maine – as well as American Samoa and Democrats living abroad cast ballots.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker, Michael Martina, Tim Reid, Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicutt Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

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