From Arlington, Virginia - A day after finishing well behind Bernie Sanders in the Nevada Caucuses, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg received a rousing reception at an outdoor rally in Virginia, one of the fourteen Super Tuesday states where Buttigieg will need a boost to insure he has some major influence in coming weeks in the Democratic race for President.
"Our numbers have grown a little bit," Buttigieg said to cheers, as thousands gathered on the football field at Washington-Liberty High School, not far across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
"We're running on adrenaline," Buttigieg added, detailing how had hop scotched his way from Nevada to Colorado, to South Carolina for church this morning, and then here in the Old Dominion for his Sunday afternoon rally.
In his speech, Buttigieg quickly turned his fire on front runner Bernie Sanders, who seems likely to be targeted on Tuesday night, in the next Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina.
"I respect my friend Sen. Sanders," Buttigieg said. "But I also believe that the way we will build the movement to defeat Donald Trump is to call people into our tent, not to call them names on line."
"This is where I view things a little differently than Sen. Sanders," Buttigieg said later in his speech. "I don't believe we can allow ourselves to get to the point where it feels like fighting is the point."
Buttigieg in Virginia: "I respect my friend Senator Sanders. I believe the ideals he talks about our ideals we all share. But I also believe that the way we will build the movement to defeat Donald Trump is to call people into our tents, not to call them names online."— Dan Merica (@merica) February 23, 2020
Beautiful day in Arlington, VA. Pete Buttigieg rallies in another Super Tuesday state. pic.twitter.com/V4L4YkfCz9— Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) February 23, 2020
As Buttigieg took the stage in Arlington, 60 percent of the precincts were reporting from the Nevada Caucuses a day earlier - and as the sun went down, the numbers only got worse for anyone not named Sanders.
“I believe we call that a rout,” said elections analyst Kyle Kondik.
With 72 percent reporting, Sanders was at 47.5 percent, Biden at 20.8 percent, while Buttigieg trailed well back in third at 13.8 percent.
"We cannot wait four years," Buttigieg said of the drive by Democrats to oust President Trump.
"We can't wait nine days!" someone in the crowd shouted back, referring to Super Tuesday.
Buttigieg also used his stop in the Washington area to raise money for his campaign, needing a boost as this race goes more national over the next week.
The candidates for the Democratic nomination will gather on Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina for their next debate; South Carolina holds a primary on Saturday.
Super Tuesday follows the next Tuesday, on March 3, as 14 states will vote, with Sanders seen as a top finisher in most of those contests.
As our movement grows, we will be attacked. But our job now is to bring people together in a multi-racial, multi-generational movement for real change. When we stand together, we will defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 23, 2020
Buttigieg and other challengers to Sanders will host a series of events in Charleston on Monday on the eve of the debate.
Then, the race will start to explode outside of the borders of the Palmetto State, as after the debate, Buttigieg will go to Florida on Wednesday for a series of fundraising events.
Florida does not vote until March 17, two weeks after Super Tuesday.
Buttigieg's good turnout on Sunday came after Elizabeth Warren drew 4,000 not far from here in Virginia last week - another signal that Democratic voters are desperate to find someone to take on, and defeat, President Trump in November.
"America is ready for Pete," said Kyle Rumpler, a Buttigieg organizer.
For now, Buttigieg is in second place in the delegate race, but Super Tuesday could bring some big changes.