WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders, who saw his once strong lead in the Democratic primary evaporate as the party’s establishment lined swiftly up behind rival Joe Biden, ended his presidential bid on Wednesday, acknowledging 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 a general election campaign that will be waged against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sanders initially exceeded sky-high expectations about his ability to recreate the magic of his 2016 presidential bid, and even overcame a heart attack last October. But he found himself unable to convert unwavering support from progressives into a viable path to the nomination, with “electability” fears fueled by questions about whether his democratic socialist ideology would be palatable to general election voters.
“The path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders told supporters Wednesday. “If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination I would certainly continue the campaign, but it’s just not there.”
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the election, leading many states to postpone their primary dates over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations about large gatherings.