“Today I am suspending my campaign,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on.”
In a livestream to supporters on Wednesday, Sanders said, “The path toward victory is virtually impossible. …I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful.”
“I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign I cannot win and which would interfere the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Sanders said.
He congratulated Biden as a “very decent man” and said that he will will work him. But he said that he will continue to remain on the ballot and collect delegates in the remaining primaries, something that could give him additional leverage as the party develops its platform.
“Together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history,” Sanders said.
Biden issued a lengthy statement, including praise for Sanders and his supporters. “Bernie has done something rare in politics,” Biden said. “He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement. And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.”
Sanders trailed Biden by about 300 delegates, making it all but impossible for him to catch up to him before the Democratic National Convention.
After the last major round of primaries on March 17, when Biden trounced Sanders in Arizona, Florida and Illinois, many pundits had already anointed him as the 2020 nominee.
With a laser focus on his progressive agenda, including Medicare for all and the green New Deal, Sanders garnered the largest crowds of any of the Democrats in the field and enjoyed lopsided support among younger voters. In the entertainment community, he shunned high-dollar fundraisers but still drew a long list of celebrity supporters, from Cardi B. to Dick Van Dyke.
After Sanders’ victories in the popular vote in Iowa, followed by wins of New Hampshire and Nevada, it looked as if his campaign was on its way to running away with the nomination. But his prospects changed in South Carolina, when Biden won a lopsided victory. Over the next two days, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out, allowing Biden to consolidate support and dominate the races on Super Tuesday.
In his livestream to supporters on Wednesday, Sanders said that the campaign had won an ideological and generational struggle over the future agenda of the party. “The future of this country is with our ideas,” he said.
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday in Wisconsin — a state that Sanders won over Hillary Clinton 2016 — but the race has been marred by concerns over the coronavirus. The Supreme Court denied an effort by the state’s governor, Democrat Tony Evers, to delay the primary, something that would have given more time to residents to vote by mail. The results in the race will not even be revealed until Monday, while Sanders’ campaign said that it did not conduct any get-out-the-vote efforts given concerns over safety of those going to the polls.
As news broke about Sanders’ decision to drop out, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!”
Trump also tried to sow some discord between Sanders and Biden supporters.
He tweeted, “Wow, Bernie is unwilling to give up his delegates, and wants more of them! What’s that all about?”
Sanders will be a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday.