(Reuters) – The field of candidates seeking the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination dropped to five with Monday’s departure of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota as the race now heads to voters in 14 states for Super Tuesday.
The U.S. senator from Vermont with an impassioned following is making a second attempt at the presidency and secured a position as front-runner after the first nominating contests.
Sanders won New Hampshire and Nevada, finished a close second in Iowa to Buttigieg and well behind Joe Biden in South Carolina.
As in his first presidential run in 2016, Sanders, 78, has campaigned as an unapologetic, self-described democratic socialist who seeks nothing less than a political revolution.
Sanders, whose signature issue is government-run universal healthcare, has again proven to be a fundraising powerhouse, leading the field in total campaign contributions.
Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama, argues his more than 40 years in elected office make him best suited to seize the reins from Trump and lead from Day One.
Lackluster performances in Iowa and New Hampshire cost Biden his front-runner status, though his campaign argued Nevada and South Carolina would be a better test of his ability to assemble a diverse coalition of supporters that includes African Americans, Hispanics and working-class white voters.
Biden finished second in Nevada and a decisive first in South Carolina.
At 77, questions persist about his age and his moderate brand of politics, which less moderate rivals contend is out of step with the leftward shift of the party.
Trump’s apparent effort to push the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, which resulted in Trump’s impeachment, boosted Biden’s argument that the president views him as a threat.
Media mogul and former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, 77, announced his candidacy in November, late in the game.
In an unusual move, Bloomberg skipped early voting states, focusing instead on the larger states such as California, Florida and Texas that vote on March 3 – Super Tuesday – and beyond.
Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American with an estimated worth of $53.4 billion, Bloomberg has previously been praised within the party for his advocacy and philanthropy on climate change and in fighting gun violence. He served as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013.
Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions of dollars of his own wealth into trying to win the nomination, spending millions on television advertisements.
The 70-year-old U.S. senator from Massachusetts at first skyrocketed in opinion polls but fell in the months leading up to the early primary contests. Warren finished third in Iowa, fourth in Nevada and New Hampshire, which neighbors her home state, and fifth in South Carolina.
A fierce critic of Wall Street, she has based her campaign on a populist anti-corruption message and argues the country needs “big, structural change.”
Despite her liberalism, she has been criticized by some progressives for not fully embracing the “Medicare for All” healthcare plan that would eliminate private insurance in favor of a government-run plan. Some moderates, on the other hand, view her policies, which include a tax on the super-rich, as too extreme.
Warren contends that she is the best candidate to unite the party’s warring moderate and progressive factions.
The Samoan-American congresswoman from Hawaii is the first Hindu to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and has centered her campaign on her anti-war stance.
Despite finishing in all four early primary states near the bottom of the heap, Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, has vowed to pursue her campaign.
Gabbard’s populist, anti-war approach has won her fans among both the far left and the far right.
Gabbard, 38, has been engaged in a public feud with 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She sued Clinton for defamation, seeking at least $50 million in damages, for suggesting last year that one of the party’s White House contenders was a “Russian asset.”
Trump is the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, and some opponents accuse party leadership of making it impossible for a challenger. Still, the incumbent will face a rival on the ballot.
His campaign mounted a show of force in Iowa, where he won every caucus. In New Hampshire, Trump won 86% of the Republican vote.
Since his surprise win in the 2016 presidential election, Trump, 73, has become a ubiquitous political force, both through the controversies he generates almost daily and his prolific Twitter account.
Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives in December for his request that Ukraine carry out investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden. The U.S. Senate, controlled by his fellow Republicans, acquitted him on Feb. 5.
Trump is focusing his re-election message on the strong economy, while standing by anti-immigration rhetoric that characterized his first campaign.
The 74-year-old former Massachusetts governor ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2016 as a Libertarian. He has been a persistent critic of Trump, saying when he began his 2020 campaign that “the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering.”
Weld finished a distant second in New Hampshire, receiving 9% of the vote.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Howard Goller)