Calling the path to victory “virtually impossible,” Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The decision by Sanders, which comes as the race is largely shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, sets up a general election matchup between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“While we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders said in a video message.
“And so today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign,” he added. “Please know that I do not make this decision lightly. In fact, it has been a very difficult and painful decision.”
Sanders said he would continue his campaign if he believed there was a feasible path to the nomination but determined in consultation with his wife, top staff and prominent supporters that “it’s just not there.”
The move by Sanders represents a substantial turnaround from just a couple months, when the senator when was seen as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination after victories in primary contests in New Hampshire and Nevada.
However, Biden would win a landslide victory in South Carolina and earn the support of several moderate candidates that dropped out of the presidential race, leading to a very strong showing on Super Tuesday.
Victories in a number of subsequent primary contests gave Biden what was seen as an insurmountable lead in the race for delegates.
The campaign for the Democratic nomination has been virtually shut down by the coronavirus pandemic since then, with several states postponing their primary elections.
In his video message, Sanders acknowledged some supporters would like the campaign to continue all the way to the Democratic convention.
“But as I see the crisis gripping the nation, exacerbated by a President unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership, and the work that needs to be done to protect people in this most desperate hour, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win, and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Sanders said.
Biden responded to the news with a statement crediting Sanders with creating a movement that has changed the dialogue in America.
“Issues which had been given little attention — or little hope of ever passing — are now at the center of the political debate” Biden said. “Income inequality, universal health care, climate change, free college, relieving students from the crushing debt of student loans.”
“These are just a few of the issues Bernie and his supporters have given life to,” he added. “And while Bernie and I may not agree on how we might get there, we agree on the ultimate goal for these issues and many more.”
Biden concluded his statement by urging Sanders’ supporters to get behind his campaign for president and work together to defeat Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump hinted at a conspiracy by the Democratic National Committee to prevent Sanders from winning the nomination and suggested his supporters should join the Republican Party.
Trump also raised questions about Sanders’ decision to continue to gather delegates, although the senator explained that the move is intended to allow his supporters to exert significant influence over the Democratic Party platform at the national convention.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
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