Democratic voters in Middle Tennessee heard their final pitches from three candidates over the weekend before the Super Tuesday primary, as Minn. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg visited the region.
Buttigieg held a town hall on Public Square in downtown Nashville, Klobuchar held a rally in a SoBro venue and Bloomberg made a swing through Clarksville just days before voters in 14 states cast their ballots.
All three candidates need a strong showing on Super Tuesday — and particularly in Tennessee — to bolster their chances. Polls show them trailing Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders nationally and in the biggest states that will vote March 3, California and Texas. (A senior aide to Buttigieg told NPR late Sunday he would suspend his campaign.)
In Nashville, Klobuchar restated that she stands as a moderate alternative in the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates. Klobuchar held her rally Friday afternoon, before heading to a closed-door fundraiser in Midtown.
“There are a bunch of people that are in our fired-up Democratic base,” Klobuchar told the crowd of about 250. “But there are also independents and moderate Republicans that are watching that don’t like this president, that want to see a change, and I remember that every single day.”
Klobuchar said the November 2020 election is a check on the economy, “decency” and “patriotism.” She also spoke about reaching across the aisle.
“To me, courage is not just standing by yourself in the corner punching,” Klobuchar said. “Courage is whether or not you are willing to stand next to some people you don’t always agree with for the betterment of this country.”
Buttigieg similarly stressed his moderate credentials and made an open appeal to faith.
“I mean…this president, right?” he said. “Maybe [he] ought to be challenged by somebody not afraid to remind fellow believers that God does not belong to a political party in the United States of America.”
More than 336,000 Tennesseans have already voted in the presidential primary, but Democratic participation surged in the final days of early voting. Some voters say they’re still weighing their options before making up their mind whom to support.
“I’m trying to hear everybody out right now and see what the candidate stands for, if they’re aligning with my interests and social issues that are important to me,” said Ashlee Gray, a Murfreesboro resident who came to Buttigieg’s town hall. “I’m not satisfied with the current administration. I do not want to go through another four years of the current administration.”
The official election day for the presidential primaries in Tennessee is Tuesday. You can find out where to vote by visiting GoVoteTN.org.
Alexis Marshall contributed to this report. This story has been updated to reflect reports that Buttigieg intends to suspend his campaign.