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Democratic Sen. Doug Jones Endorses Former Vice President Joe Biden


We turn now to Alabama, one of the 14 states that will host its primary contest today. Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by more than 55 points in that state back in 2016. That suggests that it is Joe Biden's to lose. David Greene talked with Alabama's Democratic senator, Doug Jones, who has endorsed the former vice president.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: So why is Joe Biden your pick?

DOUG JONES: Well, I've known Joe for a long time - I mean, 40 years. I first met him as a law student here in Birmingham about - gosh, it was in I think 1978. And I've just - he struck me then as someone who would make a great president. He's the kind of leader that I think the country needs, someone that has incredible domestic policy experience but also foreign policy experience and the kind of leader who brings people together to try to actually get things done.

GREENE: Well, since you know him so well, can you explain some of the curious moments in this campaign? I mean, for one, there was this story that Biden told about being arrested in South Africa on his way to see Nelson Mandela. It was largely disproven. Finally, Biden is saying, OK, I wasn't arrested. I was actually just held up at an airport. Can you understand why these moments cause some doubt for voters?

JONES: Well, you know, I can't speak for other voters. I think people that know Joe for a long time are looking at his record. They're not looking at things like that, especially when we've got folks in the White House, in the administration today, who have no compunction whatsoever about saying things that are either blown out of proportion, hyper hyped or either just outright false. So I think...

GREENE: But does that make it - I'm sorry to interrupt. Does that make it OK for Joe Biden to say something that's not true?

JONES: Well, I don't think that that is going to be the issue at the end of the day. Whether it's OK or not I don't think is going to be the issue. The issue that people are looking for - they're looking for a leader that is going to help get things done. They're looking for people to be able to reach across the aisle but also bring people within their own party together to find the common ground to make sure this country goes forward in a positive way. And I think that's the main issue, and that's why you see the people of South Carolina - they know Joe Biden. They know his fallacies. They know his positives. And that's why the people of South Carolina overwhelmingly gave him the victory they did the other night and why I think he's going to do very well on Super Tuesday.

GREENE: But there are voters who have said that some of these types of missteps in the campaign have caused them to question. I mean, what do you tell voters who say what's going on here?

JONES: Look at the totality of the record and what he can do and how he can bring together. Look at the people who've known Joe Biden for as long as they have. Look at the number of folks around this country who are for him because they know the kind of leader he is.

GREENE: So, I mean, I'm sure you're aware he faces an uphill battle going into Super Tuesday. I mean, he is at a huge fundraising disadvantage compared to Bernie Sanders right now. He's been behind in the polls in some very big states like California and Texas. How does he overcome that?

JONES: Well, I think he overcomes it by continuing to move forward with the momentum that he's got. This is a delegate count number right now. This field is going to winnow down, and I think as Joe Biden goes forward, if you look at the states that are beyond Super Tuesday, those are also going to be very good delegate rich states for Joe Biden. This race is far from over. I think, unfortunately, folks in the media, with all due respect, have anointed four or five different people now as who is going to be the eventual Democratic nominee. We've had, like, four contests, but this race is still fluid. Yeah, Senator Sanders is going to probably have a delegate lead, but if you look at the totality of the circumstances and where the votes for the Democrats have been throughout this season, I think that they're going to all coalesce in my opinion - and it is strictly that, my opinion - around Joe Biden ultimately.

GREENE: If Sanders emerges as the front-runner and ends up leading, possibly winning, the delegate count, are you ready to get behind him?

JONES: You know, look, I disagree with Senator Sanders on many, many things. I think he's got to kind of try to pull people together. You know, one of the things that I'm looking for is whether or not that he can pull and make sure that all voices in the Democratic Party are heard. Right now, I'm having a hard time seeing that with Senator Sanders. But that's not to say he can't do it. We have got such a long way to go. I still believe this race is far from over. Instead of playing a speculation game, I think we need to let this matter play out. I think we need to let all the elections.

GREENE: Well, what specifically worries you about Bernie Sanders? You said you're worried about him bringing all the - you know, a full coalition together. What are you specifically worried about?

JONES: Look, I think that Senator Sanders has a great number of supporters that are raising issues about poverty, about health care. But the way that they want to do things with "Medicare for All" I just don't think is a viable option. And I'm not sure how Senator Sanders right now will try to bring people around to accomplish what we all want to accomplish, and that is health care for everyone in one form or another. That's just one issue. I think his issues on climate change are farther than they need to be at this point because we've got to make sure we do things to keep people employed and we do it smart. But my concern is whether or not there will be an ability to pull people together to try to get things accomplished as opposed to it's got to be this way or that way.

GREENE: Democratic Senator Doug Jones of the state of Alabama. Really appreciate talking to you, Senator. Thank you.

JONES: Always a pleasure, David. Thanks so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.