US Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden received another boost on Monday when former presidential hopeful and the senator from New Jersey Cory Booker endorsed him.
The former US vice-president is hoping to deliver a knockout blow to rival Bernie Sanders on Tuesday as six states vote.
At a campaign event in Flint, Michigan, alongside Biden, Booker, who ended his own White House bid in January, said that “it should be obvious” why he is backing the former vice president, who, he said, could heal a “wounded nation.”
Booker’s endorsement – one day after another onetime candidate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, backed Biden – means he has picked up the backing of two black former presidential contenders as he seeks the party’s nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November.
Biden has powered over the past nine days to the head of the contest for the Democratic nomination. A wave of endorsements by his former rivals has made him the clear standard-bearer for the Democratic Party’s moderate wing, while Sanders represents the party’s more liberal elements.
Biden said in Flint the rush of endorsements had surprised him. “They’ve all come out and endorsed at one time – at one time – the candidate they think can win,” he said.
Michigan, with 125 delegates to the party’s nominating convention, is the biggest prize in Tuesday’s voting. A win could give Biden an insurmountable lead in the number of delegates needed to win the nomination at the party’s July convention.
Sanders, a senator from Vermont, likely needs a victory in Michigan to recapture momentum after Biden showed surprising strength in last week’s Super Tuesday contests.
An opinion poll from the Detroit Free Press published on Monday found Biden holding a 24-percentage-point lead over Sanders among Democratic voters in Michigan.
A new national poll released by Quinnipiac University showed Biden with an almost 20-point lead over Sanders following Super Tuesday, 54% to 35%.
While the survey has only limited relevance in the state-by-state nominating process, the poll suggested that Democratic voters increasingly view Biden as the most likely candidate to beat Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
Sanders held a rally on Monday in St. Louis. Missouri, Michigan, Mississippi, Washington state, Idaho and North Dakota, hold nominating contests on Tuesday.