Sanders has not conceded the race, and in an unusual move for a primary night, he passed on making any statement to the media.
“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” Biden said in his speech to supporters in Philadelphia. “We share a common goal, and together we can defeat Donald Trump.”
Biden also said of his rivals, “We need you. We want you. And there’s a place in our campaign for each of you.”
As news networks awaited further results, commentary turned to Biden’s challenge in winning over Sanders’ supporters, who turned his campaign rallies into passionate displays against the establishment and politics as usual.
On CNN, Jake Tapper talked of some of the potential fault lines for Biden in trying to capture Sanders’ support, noting that he risked looking as if he was trying to drive the Vermont senator from the race. Tapper referred to a comment made by James Carville on MSNBC, in which Carville said, “Let’s shut this puppy down and move on and worry about November.”
Michael Moore, who campaigned for Sanders, said on MSNBC, “Asking people to do two things, [to] get rid of Trump and get rid of the system, political and economic system that gave us Trump, was too much to ask for people who were just like ‘Can we just get rid of Trump?'”
Fox News did not carry Biden’s measured speech live. At times throughout the the evening, its opinion hosts mocked the Democratic front runner, mirroring a Trump campaign talking point that Biden is feeble and confused.
Sean Hannity said, “Quid Pro Quo Joe kind of looked pretty frail to me. Is he going to invite Putin to a fight or a pushup contest. Or even little Rocket Man? Because I think frankly anyone will be able to kick his ass.”
Biden and Sanders each canceled what were to be campaign rallies in Cleveland, with their eyes set on the Ohio primary next week. With the coronavirus crisis, their events are likely to look far different — if they happen at all.
“We are obviously following the guidance of public safety officials,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Bedingfield added that the campaign was “taking precautionary steps,” and noted that hand sanitization was being given to people entering events and Biden himself had given up “working the rope line.”
PREVIOUSLY: Andrew Yang endorsed Joe Biden on CNN on Tuesday, as Biden built on his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders with big wins in the Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi primaries.
Yang called Biden the “prohibitive nominee,” and said, “You can see that Biden is building a delegate lead that is only going to grow in the days ahead.”
Yang’s presidential bid gained a fervent following known as the “Yang Gang,” but he dropped out of the race when he trailed in the New Hampshire primary. He then signed on as a special contributor on CNN.
Yang said that he gets the “frustration” of Bernie Sanders supporters, but that defeating President Donald Trump is the first priority. Yang said that he spoke to Biden last week but was not ready to endorse in the race.
Another CNN commentator, Van Jones, cautioned that Biden has work to do on unifying the party, particularly with younger voters who gravitated to Sanders’ message of overhauling the U.S. economy to help the working class.
PREVIOUSLY: Joe Biden was the projected winner of the Michigan primary, the biggest delegate prize among six presidential contests on Tuesday, but also a blow to Bernie Sanders’ efforts to stage a resurgence in the Democratic race.
Biden’s victory is a blow to Sanders, who won an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Michigan has 125 delegates, almost half of those at stake on Tuesday, but it also has symbolic value. It was one of the three traditionally blue states that Donald Trump wrested away from the Democrats in 2016.
Biden also won primaries in Missouri and Mississippi.
On ABC News, analyst Matthew Dowd said that in contrast to 2016, when working class white voters “did not feel aligned with Hillary Clinton.” “That is something very different from what we have now, because a lot of those working class whites feel aligned with Joe Biden, or as aligned with Bernie Sanders.” Exit polls showed Biden was leading or competitive in rural areas of the state, regions that eluded Clinton in 2016.
Polls have yet to close in three other states with contests — North Dakota, Idaho and Washington.
Major cable news networks covered the results, and some of the broadcast networks went up with special reports. NBC went up with four special reports as the results came in. ABC and CBS so far have provided one report on the Biden victories.
PREVIOUSLY: Joe Biden was projected to win the Missouri primary, adding to his victory in Mississippi.
Bernie Sanders narrowly lost Missouri to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the early call of Biden as the winner in the state’s primary suggested that he would have a wide lead.
On CNN, Dana Bash said that Sanders has yet to show that he is expanding the electorate, particularly with younger voters.
“What we are now see is a very clear pattern of not expanding but contracting,” she said.
PREVIOUSLY: Joe Biden was projected to win Mississippi’s primary on Tuesday, an early victory as a half-dozen states held primary contests that will determine if he can establish a wider delegate lead over Bernie Sanders.
The five other states holding presidential contests are Michigan, Idaho, Missouri, Washington state and North Dakota. A total of 352 delegates were at stake.
The news networks covered the primaries with an emphasis on the impact of the coronavirus on the campaigns and on turnout. Just hours before the first polls closed, Sanders and Biden canceled planned rallies in Cleveland out of concerns over the spread of the virus. Biden planned to instead address the media at an event in Philadelphia, where his campaign is based, leaving CNN and other networks to report from the empty rally venue.
Biden leads Sanders in the delegate count, 720-640, according to FiveThirtyEight, with 1,991 delegates needed for a majority.
CNN called Biden the winner of Mississippi right as polls closed at 8 p.m. ET. The screen initially flashed a photo of Sanders winning the state, but Wolf Blitzer quickly called the correct projected winner.
“Bernie Sanders…not happening right now. Joe Biden is the winner,” Blitzer said.
Biden’s projected victory in Mississippi is not a surprise, as he has also won other southern states including Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina.