Biden, Trump notch more wins as primary voters urge them to keep up the fight

With many Americans unenthusiastic about 2024’s choice for the White House, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s campaigns are working to fire up their bases by tearing into each other and warning of the perils of the opponent.

March 20, 2024 10:36 am | Updated March 30, 2024 06:45 pm IST - TEMPE, Arizona

A voter shows her “I voted” sign after casting her ballot in Chicago, on March 19, 2024. Illinois is one of five states holding presidential primaries as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump continue to lock up support around the country after becoming their parties’ presumptive nominees.

A voter shows her “I voted” sign after casting her ballot in Chicago, on March 19, 2024. Illinois is one of five states holding presidential primaries as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump continue to lock up support around the country after becoming their parties’ presumptive nominees. | Photo Credit: AP

As Joe Biden and Donald Trump moved closer to a November rematch in the U.S. Presidential election, primary voters around the country on Tuesday urged their favoured candidate to keep up the fight and worried about what might happen if their side loses this fall.

There was little suspense about Tuesday's results as both candidates are already their parties' presumptive nominees. Mr. Trump easily won Republican primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio. Mr. Biden did the same except in Florida, where Democrats had cancelled their primary and opted to award all 224 of their delegates to Mr. Biden.

Instead, the primaries and key downballot races became a reflection of the national political mood. With many Americans unenthusiastic about 2024’s choice for the White House, both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump’s campaigns are working to fire up their bases by tearing into each other and warning of the perils of the opponent.

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Those who did turn out to vote Tuesday seemed to hear that.

Pat Shackleford, an 84-year-old caregiver in Mesa, Arizona, said she voted for Mr. Trump in Arizona's primary to send the former president a message.

“I wanted to encourage him that the fight has been worthwhile, that more of us are behind him than maybe the media tells you,” Ms. Shackleford said.

Jamie and Cassandra Neal, sisters who both live in Phoenix, said they were unenthusiastic Mr. Biden supporters until they saw the vigour the president brought to his State of the Union speech. It fired them up for the coming election.

“Beforehand it was like, ‘Well, he’s the only decent one there,’” said Cassandra Neal, 42. “After his address it was like, ‘OK, let’s do it!’” Jamie Neal, 45, said Mr. Biden had been “way too nice” before and needed to match Trump, whom she described as “vicious.”

In Ohio’s Republican Senate primary, Trump-backed businessman Bernie Moreno defeated two challengers, Ohio Secretary of State Frank Frank LaRose and Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team.

Mr. Moreno and Mr. Trump appeared together Saturday at a rally where Mr. Trump praised his endorsed candidate as a “warrior” and said that were he not to be elected, “it's going to be a bloodbath for the country.” His campaign insists he was referring to the auto industry and not the country as a whole.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden have for weeks been focused on the general election, aiming their campaigns lately on states that could be competitive in November rather than merely those holding primaries.

Mr. Trump, a Florida voter, cast his ballot at a recreation centre in Palm Beach on Tuesday and told reporters, “I voted for Donald Trump.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are running on their records in office and casting the other as a threat to America. Mr. Trump, 77, portrays the 81-year-old Mr. Biden as mentally unfit. The president has described his Republican rival as a threat to democracy after his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results and his praise of foreign strongmen.

Those themes were evident Tuesday at some polling locations.

“President Biden, I don't think he knows how to tie his shoes anymore,” said Mr. Trump supporter Linda Bennet, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, not far from the former president's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Even as she echoed Mr. Trump's arguments about Mr. Biden, she criticised Mr. Trump's rhetoric and “the way he composes himself” as “not presidential at all.” But she said the former president is “a man of his word,” and she said the country, especially the economy, felt stronger to her under Mr. Trump's leadership.

In Columbus, Ohio, Democrat Brenda Woodfolk voted for Mr. Biden and shared the president's framing of the choice this fall.

“It's scary,” she said of the prospect that Mr. Trump could be in the Oval Office again. “Trump wants to be a dictator, talking about making America white again and all this kind of crap. There's too much hate going on."

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