Pressure is building in the Democratic party for Sen. Bernie Sanders to drop out of the nomination race following Tuesday’s losses, but the senator from Vermont says he’s staying in the race.
By late Tuesday, rival presidential candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner in Michigan, a state that Sanders aides said was a must-win for the campaign. Biden beat Sanders in Mississippi thanks to overwhelming African-American support, Politico reported, and coasted in Missouri.
In his first press conference since Tuesday’s primaries, Sanders said he is staying in the Democratic nomination race despite recent losses. “On Sunday, I very much look forward the debate in Arizona with my friend Joe Biden,” Sanders said, according to a Democracy Now tweet.
Sanders and Biden are scheduled to go head-to-head Sunday in a debate in Phoenix. There will not be a live studio audience at the debate due to concerns over the growing coronavirus outbreak, the Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday.
Sanders has blamed “the establishment” in recent days for pressuring Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to drop out and endorse Biden on the eve of Super Tuesday.
Politico interviewed more than two dozen delegate experts and political operatives who agreed that Sanders taking a beating in Michigan and Mississippi and a tight finish in Washington state would all but close his path to nomination.
Burned by the devastating general election loss four years ago, some Democrats are trying to avoid a prolonged primary that they say would help re-elect Donald Trump. They say they refuse to go down that road again and are discussing pushing Sanders out to clear the way for Biden.
But Sanders is staying put despite Biden winning four of the six states that voted on Tuesday, including double-digit wins in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri.
“Biden’s racking up the wins in those four states and in 10 of the 14 states that voted last week on Super Tuesday has left Sanders with a narrow path to the presidential nomination,” New York Post reported.
A candidate needs 1,991 delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Biden was leading Sanders in the delegate count 857 to 709 as of Wednesday morning. Nine former Democratic hopefuls – including former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar – have endorsed Biden.
Ahead of Tuesday’s votes, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said Sanders should drop out of the race out if Biden wins big in Michigan and elsewhere, Politico reported.
“I would just believe that he is a strong enough politician to know when it is time to fold his hand,” Fudge said. “If in fact, he wants to let the people speak — the people have spoken. I would certainly hope that he would then do what is best for the party and what is best for the country.”
Despite disappointing results, Sanders’ team believes he’ll thrive in a one-on-one debate with the former vice president. Some left-wing allies are cheering him on.
“Biden has to withstand one-on-one scrutiny similar to a debate with Trump — and he would likely need to cement some popular progressive positions that Bernie challenges him on. All of that makes us more likely to defeat Trump,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 69: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to unpack the question: Was Barack Obama the first political anti-Christ to rise in Black America?
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said he hopes Sanders will look at the big picture.
“Is Sen. Sanders really committed to the Democratic Party and the nominee, or is he committed to his movement and his own candidacy?” Jones said. “He has said he is committed to the party, I think he’s going to have to demonstrate that.”
Sanders is expected to lose Florida, according to Matt Seyfang, a delegate expert.
However, polling has been wrong before. In 2016, pollsters predicted Hillary Clinton would win Michigan. Instead, Sanders won, keeping himself in the race and dragging out the fight for another month. Some Democrats worry that Sanders and his supporters could damage Biden while the former VP is also under attack by Trump and Republicans. The Democratic party’s flagship super PAC, Priorities USA, is now preparing to provide air cover for Biden against the Republican onslaught, Politico reported.
“The stakes are too high for the Democrats to do anything but to be one band, one sound to go into the most politically consequential election of some of our lifetimes,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright.
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