Bernie Sanders bowed out of the presidential race Wednesday, pledging to continue his progressive movement even as the resurgence of former Vice President Joe Biden – now the presumptive Democratic nominee – and the coronavirus crisis sidelined the primary.
What We Know:
- Sanders was propelled to front-runner status for much of February by a string of early victories and a massive war chest fueled by a fervent base. But the 73-year-old democratic socialist watched his path to the nomination narrow as the party’s centrist wing coalesced around Biden and the coronavirus pushed political campaigns up and down the ballot into limbo.
- “If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue the campaign, but it’s just not there,” Sanders said in a livestream address on Wednesday.
- Sanders’ exit clears Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination and simultaneously ends the Vermont Senator’s five-year quest for the White House that began when he emerged as the progressive standard-bearer against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
- Sanders called his choice to suspend his campaign, made over the course of several weeks with the guidance of his close advisors and supporters, a “difficult and painful” decision. He characteristically took the opportunity to point to “how absurd” it is to have employer-based health insurance, in particular in the wake of the pandemic.
“Senator Sanders and his supporters have changed the dialogue for America. Issues which had been given little attention – or little hope of ever passing – are now at the center of the political debate. You will be heard by me. As you say: Not me, Us. And to your supporters I make the same commitment.” – Joe Biden
- He has inspired young activist ready to take up the mantle on issues from health care to climate change. Notably among them is the popular U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders’ most prominent endorser who threw her weight behind him shortly after his heart attack, when he was most vulnerable in the race. Ocasio-Cortez supported Sanders long before she was a household name.
- His campaign long argued he was an electable candidate but voters worried that he was too far left to beat Trump. He promised to draw out a diverse coalition with a message that would excite new voters, and he made gains with Latino voters. But he struggled to connect with Black voters and bring out the youth vote in the numbers that he needed.