Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced an end to his presidential run Wednesday morning. The democratic socialist suffered a number of high-profile defeats in primary races around the country.
“We showed the world that we could take on a corrupt campaign finance system and run a campaign without being dependent on the wealthy and powerful,” he said in a speech broadcast live from his website. “I can’t imagine that any candidate has ever been blessed with a stronger and more dedicated group of people who have taken our message to every part of the country. Together we have transformed American consciousness about what kind of nation we can become.”
Sanders also outlined an unusual path forward for his movement. In his speech, he explained his intentions to remain on all primary ballots in an attempt to continue to gain delegates leading up to the Democratic National Convention this August. The delegate count would be used to exert political power over the Democratic Party platform and push for a more progressive set of guiding principles.
“Then together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump,” he said.
The future of the party, said Sanders, agrees with his ideals, and Democrats will need to adapt to stay relevant. “We are winning the struggle generationally,” he explained, pointing out that his campaign won over vast majorities of voters under the age of 30 and, often, under 50. “The future of this country is with our ideas.”
The announcement came following Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary election. Results aren’t expected until next Monday, but polls show Sanders falling well behind his competitor, former vice president Joe Biden, marking a significant departure from 2016’s results. In the previous presidential election, Sanders beat then-rival Hillary Clinton in the Badger State by 13 points.
The results also follow a streak of losses for the 78-year-old candidate that began on Super Tuesday.
The Senator informed his staff of his decision hours before addressing the nation.
“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth, and that is we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Joe Biden, and the path to victory is virtually impossible,” he said. “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful.”
Sanders acknowledged that some of his supporters “disagree with our position” but said that he could not in “good conscious continue to mount a campaign that I cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”
Joe Biden is now presumed to be the official Democratic nominee as the United States finds itself in the midst of a global pandemic that has caused the country to scramble to retool its typical election process.
Sanders built a campaign around large, socialist ideals like Medicare for All, student loan forgiveness, and a Green New Deal. His plans to unlink health care from employment have gained increased support in recent weeks as millions of Americans have suddenly lost their jobs owing to the economic fallout of COVID-19 and now face a new life without guaranteed medical coverage.
Last month, Sanders announced that he would be taking some time to “assess” his campaign and whether or not he should continue. “We are talking to our supporters,” he said at the time. “Anybody who suggests that at this point we are ending the campaign is not telling the truth.” But since the announcement, his campaign has largely quieted and removed all advertising from Facebook.
Biden, for his part, has said that he will work to include Sanders’ ideas in his own campaign. “If I’m the nominee, I can tell you one thing, I would very much want Bernie to be part of the journey,” Biden said Tuesday. “Not as a vice presidential nominee, but just engaging in all the things that he’s worked so hard to do, many of which I agree with.”
The question now is whether Sanders will be able to unite his far-left base around Biden.
Biden, in an attempt to win over those voters issued a 757-word statement praising Sanders and emphasizing his commitment to Sanders’ platform: “While the Sanders campaign has been suspended—its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over,” he wrote.
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