Sen. Bernie Sanders: 'Our Movement Has Won The Ideological Struggle'
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, clearing the way for former Vice-President Joe Biden to become to Democratic nominee.
In a speech live-streamed from Burlington on Wednesday morning, Sanders told supporters his campaign was 300 delegates behind Biden and that the “path to victory is impossible.”
“While we are winning the ideological battle … I have concluded this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” he said.
Sanders said the decision to suspend his campaign was driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered much of public life in The United States, thrown the economy into turmoil and resulted in millions of Americans being laid off from work — all over the course of a few weeks.
He said that as a sitting senator and member of the Democratic leadership, he will be “intensely” involved in developing recovery plans.
“And that will require an enormous amount of work,” Sanders said. “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.”
"It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today, they are mainstream ideas." — Sen. Bernie Sanders
Early in this primary season, Sanders was leading the race for the Democratic nomination, with top finishes in the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary. But, ahead of Super Tuesday, the once-crowded Democratic field shrunk, as moderate candidates like former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Biden — who gain momentum after a decisive victory in South Carolina and strong showing on Super Tuesday.
But shortly after Super Tuesday, the COVID-19 pandemic altered the primary landscape, causing many states to delay votes and forcing Sanders and Biden to cease in-person campaigning.
Wisconsin held its primary on Tuesday, despite a late-stage attempt by the state's Gov. Tony Evers to delay it. The results from that primary aren’t expected until April 13.
With Sanders suspending his campaign, Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, will face off against President Donald Trump in this fall’s general election.
Sanders offered his congratulations to Biden, calling him a “ very decent man whom I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.”
In a written statement, Biden praised Sanders for his committment to issues like universal healthcare and income inequity and promised to reach out.
"You will be heard by me," Biden said. "And to your supporters I make the same commitment. I see you, I hear you and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us."
Both of Sanders' colleagues in the Vermont delegation, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch, endorsed Sanders early in the primary. In a written statement, Leahy praised Sanders' campaign.
"I look forward to continuing our partnership on behalf of Vermont in the U.S. Senate and in working together to defeat the most dangerous and incompetent president of our lifetime," Leahy said. "The energy [Sanders] has brought to this campaign for new, forward-thinking leadership in America will be important in doing that."
Sanders, in his speech, also thanked his campaign staff and volunteers for their dedication, and said their support pushed the Democratic party to the left on issues like healthcare, the environment, racial justice and economic equity.
"It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe, he said. “Today, they are mainstream ideas.”