NATIONAL NEWS

Biden and Trump could clinch nominations in Tuesday’s contests, ushering in general election

Mar 12, 2024, 7:49 AM

FILE - This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential ...

FILE - This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, Jan. 19, 2024. Biden and Trump each won the White House through razor-thin margins in key states. Now they each must try to rebuild their once-winning coalitions. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Biden and Donald Trump hope to clinch their parties’ presidential nominations with dominant victories in a slate of state primaries on Tuesday as the 2024 fight for the White House moves into a new phase.

Neither Biden, a Democrat, nor Trump, a Republican, faces significant opposition in primary contests across Georgia, Washington state, Mississippi and Hawaii. The only question is whether they will earn the necessary delegates in each state to hit the 50% national threshold to become their parties’ presumptive nominees.

Whether it happens Tuesday night or in the coming days, the 2024 presidential contest is on the verge of a crystallizing moment that will solidify a general election rematch between Biden and Trump. And that rematch — the first featuring two U.S. presidents since 1956 — will almost certainly deepen the nation’s searing political and cultural divides in the eight-month grind that lies ahead.

On the eve of Tuesday’s primaries, Trump acknowledged that Biden would be the Democratic nominee, even as he unleashed a new attack on the president’s age.

“I assume he’s going to be the candidate,” Trump said of Biden on CNBC. “I’m his only opponent other than life, life itself.”

Biden, too, directed much of his attention toward Trump, whom the Democratic president described as a serious threat to democracy during a campaign stop Monday night in New Hampshire. He also signaled a more robust presence on the campaign trail.

“I’m looking forward to doing more and more of these events,” Biden said. Later, he joked about his age. “I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been around a while.”

Georgia leads the slate of four states holding primary contests on Tuesday.

The state was a pivotal battleground in the last presidential election — so close that Trump finds himself indicted there for his push to “find 11,780 votes” and overturn Biden’s victory.

But as both candidates seek to project strength in the key swing state, Biden and Trump are grappling with glaring flaws.

Trump is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases involving his handling of classified documents and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, among other alleged crimes. He’s also facing increasingly pointed questions about his policy plans and relationships with some of the world’s most dangerous dictators. Trump met privately on Friday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has rolled back democracy in his country.

The 81-year-old Biden is working to assure a skeptical electorate that he’s still physically and mentally able to thrive in the world’s most important job.

He’s also dealing with dissension within his party’s progressive base, which is furious that he hasn’t done more to stop Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Last month in Michigan, a related protest “uncommitted” vote attracted more than 100,000 votes and actually secured two Democratic delegates.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, a scattering of lawn signs across Seattle urged primary participants to vote “uncommitted” as well, with some signs reading, “Over 30,000 dead. Vote Ceasefire by Tuesday 3/12.”

It’s much the same in Georgia, where local politicians and faith leaders are pushing Biden to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

“The most precious tool that we have to hold this president accountable for his harmful policies is our vote,” Rami Al-Kabra, who is Palestinian Muslim American and deputy mayor of Bothell, a city about 13 miles northeast of Seattle, said ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

Biden enters Tuesday 102 delegates short of the 1,968 needed to formally become the presumptive Democratic nominee. There are 254 Democratic delegates at stake Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state, in addition to party-run contests for the Northern Mariana Islands and Democrats Abroad that conclude that day.

With no major opponents, Biden is on pace to reach that mark.

Trump, meanwhile, is on pace to reach his magic number as well.

As of Sunday, Trump was 137 delegates short of the 1,215 needed to win the Republican nomination at the party’s national convention this summer. There are 161 Republican delegates at stake on Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi, Washington state and Hawaii.

With a strong showing on Tuesday, Trump can sweep all the delegates in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state. Hawaii allocates delegates proportionally so other candidates could win a few, even with a small share of the vote.

Not certain he will hit the mark, Trump’s campaign has not planned a big victory party like it did last week when hundreds packed his Mar-a-Lago club for a Super Tuesday celebration with drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres.

___

Associated Press writers Hallie Golden in Seattle, Fatima Hussein in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.

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Biden and Trump could clinch nominations in Tuesday’s contests, ushering in general election