PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wasted no time switching her allegiance in the presidential primary on Wednesday after her candidate, Mike Bloomberg, dropped out following a weak Super Tuesday performance.
Raimondo told reporters she is now backing former Vice President Joe Biden, who has stormed back into serious contention in the past week after a landslide victory in South Carolina, endorsements from multiple former rivals, and a strong performance in Tuesday’s contests.
Raimondo said she spoke with Bloomberg on Wednesday morning and has no regrets about supporting him. “He got in the race because he wanted to make sure Donald Trump is defeated, and he got out of the race for that same reason,” she said.
“He and I are going to throw our full support behind Vice President Biden,” she said. “I am thrilled, actually, that the vice president had such a great day yesterday, and now as far as I’m concerned we have to get behind Joe Biden, and make sure he’s the next president.”
Raimondo was perhaps the most prominent elected Democrat in the country who had backed Bloomberg’s unorthodox campaign, which started late, skipped the four early states and banked on using hundreds of millions of his own money to overcome Democratic doubts.
Raimondo endorsed Bloomberg, a longtime political ally, at an event in Providence on Feb. 5, arguing he had the financial firepower to defeat President Trump and would be an effective president if elected based on his record in New York City.
But that was roughly a high water mark for Bloomberg’s candidacy, which rapidly lost altitude after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren laid into him during the Feb. 20 debate. Raimondo argued the late start and poor debate performances were the biggest factors in dooming his campaign.
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“I give Bloomberg a lot of credit for waking up today and immediately saying he’s going to get behind Joe,” Raimondo said. “I think it shows he’s a man of character.”
Asked about what Warren should do next, Raimondo demurred, saying the senator has run “a fantastic campaign” and that she “needs to take a breath and decide on her own.”
But, she added, “It was important for me, and important for Mike Bloomberg, to not dilly dally. We don’t have a lot of time here. We have to get serious about defeating President Trump. So I would just say that to everybody. Time matters. We have to help Joe to raise money and have a good campaign. And if you’re going to get behind him, let’s make it happen.”
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
Scott DelSole contributed to this report.