Texas a linchpin in Biden’s Super Tuesday strategy

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks while former 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry sits during Biden's "No Malarkey!" campaign bus tour in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – With the first Democratic nominating contests less than two months away, former Vice President Joe Biden is already looking beyond to Super Tuesday in March, when some of the biggest electoral prizes will be up for grabs.

Biden traveled to Texas on Friday, a state his campaign sees as crucial to securing the nomination. While California looms as the main event on March 3, when 16 states and territories cast ballots, Texas could be the real difference-maker for him.

Opinion polls show the Democratic race fractured in California, which has 416 delegates at stake. But in Texas, where more than 220 delegates are in play, a CNN poll released this week showed Biden with a 20-point lead.

Biden campaigned in San Antonio, on his first trip to the state since September, amid signs his presidential bid has stabilized after a stretch where he faced questions about his performance on the campaign trail and fundraising.

“You’re going to be seeing a whole lot of me between now and November, God willing,” Biden told the crowd.

While there, Biden picked up several endorsements from local elected officials, including San Antonio’s former mayor, Phil Hardberger.

He remains atop the 15-candidate Democratic field in national polling while rivals have faded. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bid has been losing steam and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, once considered the biggest threat to Biden’s grip on African-American voters, dropped out of the race.

The exit of former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas from the race also seems to have worked to Biden’s benefit in that state.

Julian Castro, the former U.S. Housing secretary and himself an ex-mayor of San Antonio, remains in the presidential race.

The nominating contests begin in February in Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden trails Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in those states, which offer just 65 pledged delegates overall.

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