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Bernie Sanders Bows Out of Presidential Race

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Bernie Sanders, who saw a strong lead in the Democratic primary evaporate along with the number of presidential candidates, has ended his bid for the White House. 

In a video message from his home in Vermont Sen. Sanders leaves former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November.

“I wish I could give you better news; but I think you know the truth,” said Sanders. “And that is that we are some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible.”

Biden becomes the last man standing, from the more than two dozen Democrats mounting presidential candidacies.

“So while we’re winning the ideological battle, and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, said Sanders. “And so I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”

The 78-year-old Sanders began his latest White House bid facing questions about whether he could win back the supporters who chose him four years ago as an alternative to Democratic orthodoxy. In his announcement, he said this decision was not spur-of-the-moment.

“Over the past few weeks, [wife] Jane and I, in consultation with top staff and many of our prominent supporters, have made an honest assessment on the prospects for victory,” Sanders said. “If I believed that we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue the campaign. But it’s just not there.”

Sanders used strong polling and solid fundraising — collecting almost entirely from small, online donations — to more than quiet early doubters.

“No one knows what’s going to play out in terms of the Democratic convention – or anything else at this point – so I think he was delaying a little bit to see if things would start up, and they didn’t,” said Carol Weissert, a political scientist at Florida State University.

She adds that Sanders’ plan to stay on the remaining primary ballots and continue to collect delegates could be a useful strategy for the convention.

“It can be done; I think it’s particularly important for him because he does have a very clear constituency – the younger people,” said Weissert. “And that’s the constituency the Democrats are very interest in. So I think that will give him a lot more sway at the convention.”

And Weissert says don’t discount what Sanders has done on the campaign trail.

“His being in the campaign really focused the Democrats on a lot of issues: Medicare for all, student loan forgiveness, the minimum wage. All those were issues that I’m not sure at all would have been part of the campaign. And they are now.”

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Credit FSU
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Carol Weissert

One development worth watching, says Weissert, will be whether Sanders will officially endorse Biden, and the reaction of the so-called “Bernie Bros” – many of whom opted for the former VP in the earlier primaries.

“And it will really depend on Bernie; I don’t think he really endorsed Biden [Wednesday],” said Weissert. “But if he enthusiastically campaigns and endorses Biden and as time passes, I think those folks may come back.”

“Today I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive forward,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump – the most dangerous president in modern American history.”

Sanders added they will also work to elect strong progressives up and down the ballot, “from Congress to the school board.” And he said he understands those who want him to continue the fight.

“As I see the [coronavirus] crisis gripping the nation, exacerbated by a president unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount and campaign that cannot win,” Sanders said. “And which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”

In a lengthy statement, now-presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden praised Sanders’ efforts and appealed to his supporters, telling them he makes the same commitment, and understands the urgency of what needs to get done in this country.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.