By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Miriam Raftery: Sanders in San Diego in 2016
April 9, 2020 (San Diego) – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday announced that he has suspended his candidacy for the presidency, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Sanders reportedly spoke with Biden earlier in the day and congratulated him, pledging to work with Biden in the November general election against Republican President Donald Trump.
Biden, long positioned as a moderate, issued a message to Sanders’ supporters stating, “I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” adding, “I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”
Biden has praised Sanders for launching a movement, not merely a candidacy. He indicated some Sanders’s ideas would be included in his own White House run, but stopped short of embracing specific policy goals of Sanders and on the nation’s top issue amid a pandemic, healthcare reform, Biden has recently repeated his support of a public option, but not a federally run Medicare for all type system that has been one of Sanders’ signature issues.
Sanders stated in his message to supports that since he trails Biden by some 300 delegates, “the path toward a victory is virtually impossible.” The independent Senator, 78 claimed to be “winning the ideological battle” and pledged to continue gathering delegates as his name remains on ballots in states yet to vote.
“We must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform,” said Sanders, who oppose his supporters will move the party platform closer to his goals of universal healthcare for all, free college tuition, closing the wealth gap and the power of corporations.
The long-time Vermont Senator and avowed Democratic Socialist first ran for president in 2016, when he was narrowly defeated by Hillary Clinton. He entered the 2020 race with a passionate base of supporters who turned out by the thousands at political rallies nationwide. But despite winning some early primary races, Sanders’ edge slipped after Biden won the South Carolina primary and proved his ability to win strong support among African-Americans, a core Democratic constituency. He lost most subsequent state primaries which Biden won, as party leaders largely endorsed the more moderate Biden over the firebrand Sanders. A heart attack suffered by Sanders added to concerns among some voters over health issues in the campaign, though both Biden and Trump are also in their 70s.
The pandemic prevented all candidates from holding live rallies and stopped precinct walkers from going door-to-door, forcing campaigns into virtual campaigning online or via paid TV ads and mailers. Polls indicated that a majority of voters trusted Biden over Sanders to handle a national emergency such as the COVID-19 crisis.
President Trump greeted the news of Sanders’ suspension of candidacy by tweeting, “The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party.”
However a Newsweek article released today indicates new polls show that in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Biden, Biden currently leads Trump in swing states, though close races appear to be shaping up in several.