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U.S. Presidential race | Bernie Sanders drops out; Joe Biden set to be Democratic candidate

Bernie Sanders./ File photo

Bernie Sanders./ File photo   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

His departure sets up a battle between the 77-year-old former vice-president, Joe Biden, and President Donald Trump, who is seeking a second four-year term in office.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign on Wednesday, making former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive nominee to face Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

“The path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Mr. Sanders said in a livestreamed speech to supporters from his hometown of Burlington, Vermont. “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.”

Also read: COMMENT | Over the cliff

The U.S. senator from Vermont, a democratic socialist whose progressive agenda pulled the party sharply to the left, shot to an early lead in the Democratic race but faded quickly after losing South Carolina in late February as moderate Democrats consolidated their support behind Mr. Biden's campaign.

The departure of Mr. Sanders, the last remaining rival to Biden, sets up a battle between the 77-year-old former vice president and Mr. Trump, 73, who is seeking a second four-year term in office.

Mr. Sanders' decision to step aside came with the country in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak that upended the nominating elections schedule, with some primaries postponed and others up in the air. Mr. Sanders had been his party's front-runner just a month ago.

Also read: Three more Joe Biden victories increase pressure on Bernie Sanders to quit

Mr. Sanders, who also mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge in 2016 to eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, had been under pressure to halt his campaign after Biden won resounding victories in primary contests on March 17 in Florida, Arizona and Illinois.

Some allies had encouraged Mr. Sanders to stay in the race to further influence Mr, Biden's policy positions. But the coronavirus crisis shifted public focus away from the campaign and, with all rallies canceled, Sanders had little opportunity to get his message across.

Mr. Trump, who has courted Mr. Sanders supporters and said the Senator was treated unfairly by the Democratic Party, reacted quickly on Twitter. “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!,” Mr, Trump wrote.

Many of Mr. Sanders' policy positions have become part of the mainstream Democratic Party debate, including his Medicare for All proposal that would create a government-run healthcare system to replace the current blend of private medical insurance and public programs. He also advocated a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public colleges and higher taxes on the wealthy.

“Our movement has won the ideological struggle in so-called red States, blue States, and purple States,” Mr. Sanders said.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 8:14:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-presidential-race-bernie-sanders-drops-out-joe-biden-set-to-be-democratic-candidate/article31292127.ece

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