Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who saw his once-strong lead in the United States Democratic Party primary evaporate as the party’s establishment lined swiftly up behind rival Joe Biden, ended his presidential bid on Wednesday, an acknowledgement that the former vice president is too far ahead for him to have any reasonable hope of catching up.
The Vermont senator’s announcement makes Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November.
In an address to supporters streamed over the internet from his home in Burlington, Vermont, Sanders struck a defiant tone and, as he has throughout his campaign, railed against a “corporate and political establishment” lined up against him and his ideas.
He insisted that his campaign, while unsuccessful, won an “ideological struggle” and opened Americans’ eyes to the importance of his signature issues such as a higher minimum wage and free higher education.
Sanders seized on the current coronavirus pandemic as evidence that his proposal of Medicare for All is even more critical to the country than it was just a few months ago. He said the crisis has “exposed for all to see how absurd our current employer-based health insurance system is”.
He acknowledged that many of his supporters want him to stay in the race, but said he “cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win” and congratulated Biden, whom he called “a very decent man” that “I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward”.
In a statement following the announcement, Biden praised Sanders, saying he and his supporters “have changed the dialogue in America.”
“Bernie has done something rare in politics. He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement,” Biden said. “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.”