Bernie Sanders ended his bid for the White House on Wednesday, effectively handing the Democratic nomination to former US vice president Joe Biden and ending hopes that a progressive challenger would take on president Donald Trump in November.
Sanders announced the news on a conference call with campaign staffers.
“Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become,” he said in a livestream to supporters. He thanked the “hundreds of thousands” of campaign volunteers, crediting them with being able to “run a major presidential campaign without being reliant on the wealthy and powerful”.
Today I am suspending my campaign. But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on. https://t.co/MYc7kt2b16
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 8, 2020
The self-styled democratic socialist had long been seen as a frontrunner in the Democratic race, surging to the top of the polls before a series of poor showings on Super Tuesday and subsequent primaries.
Biden locked in deep support among Black voters throughout the south, nabbing key states including South Carolina and Texas, and earning healthy leads in places that Sanders’ campaign had hoped were competitive.
Biden also had easy victories in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday, putting his delegate total at 1,153 versus Sanders’ 861. Ohio’s primary, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed to June.
Many leading Democrats and onetime candidates had thrown their weight behind the former vice president after ending their own bids, including former mayor Pete Buttigieg, senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker and billionaire Mike Bloomberg. The quick turnaround of support for his competitor left the Sanders campaign reeling with limited options to secure enough delegates going into the Democratic National Convention in July.
Sanders had scheduled a rally in Ohio but cancelled it amid fears about the spread of coronavirus — and the outbreak kept him home as his campaign appeared unsure of its next move.
With his exit, Democrats now have a centrist as their nominee, hoping Biden’s policies will be the party’s best chance at defeating Trump later this year.