Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced the suspension of his 2020 presidential campaign on Wednesday morning, paving the way for former Vice President Joe Biden to become the Democrat Party’s White House nominee.
Sanders announced his decision to depart the race during a conference call with staffers and addressed supporters regarding the move shortly after.
“I wish I could give you better news but I think you know the truth,” Sanders said. “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful and so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”
“While this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not,” he added.
Sanders also called Biden “a very decent man” and revealed that he will remain on the ballot in remaining states to gain delegates in an effort to “continue working to assemble, as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform.”
The Vermont senator’s decision comes as the U.S. is racing to combat the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. The ongoing pandemic caused both Sanders and Biden to campaign virtually and delayed primary elections across the country.
The move also follows a series of crushing losses in key primary states, which prompted Sanders to reassess the viability of his campaign.
President Trump took to social media to blame failed 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for Sanders’ failure and invited his supporters to join the Republican Party.
“Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday!” the president tweeted. “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
Sanders amassed the most votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, which opened primary voting, and cruised to an easy victory in Nevada — seemingly leaving him well positioned to sprint to the Democratic nomination while a deeply crowded and divided field of alternatives sunk around him.
But a crucial endorsement of Biden by influential South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, and a subsequent, larger-than-expected victory in South Carolina, propelled the former vice president into Super Tuesday, when he won 10 of 14 states.
In a matter of days, his top former Democratic rivals lined up and announced their endorsement of Biden. The former vice president’s campaign had appeared on the brink of collapse after New Hampshire but found new life as the rest of the party’s more moderate establishment coalesced around him as an alternative to Sanders.
Things only got worse the following week when Sanders lost Michigan, where he had campaigned hard and upset Clinton in 2016. He was also beaten in Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho the same night and the results were so decisive that Sanders headed to Vermont without speaking to the media.
The coronavirus outbreak essentially froze the campaign, preventing Sanders from holding the large rallies that had become his trademark and shifting the primary calendar. It became increasingly unclear where he could notch a victory that would help him regain ground against Biden.
Though he will not be the nominee, Sanders was a key architect of many of the social policies that dominated the Democratic primary, including a “Medicare for All” universal, government-funded health care plan, tuition-free public college, a $15 minimum wage and sweeping efforts to fight climate change under the “Green New Deal.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.