PRESSURE is mounting for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the Democratic presidential nominee race after Joe Biden won Super Tuesday III.
Biden won all three states that voted in the Democratic primary on Tuesday – Florida, Illinois and Arizona – which carried on under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former Vice-President now has almost double the delegates Sanders does, making it near impossible for the Vermont senator to stay in the race.
Sanders’ path to the nomination is quickly narrowing, and some Democrats are now calling on him to drop out in the name of party unity, believing Biden is the best option to square off against President Donald Trump in November.
Top advisers have said he’s considering whether the political landscape could look different as the virus continues to reshape life across the country.
Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement on Wednesday the Vermont senator was taking time to "assess his campaign".
“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away,’’ Shakir said.
“Senator Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign. In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable.”
Using a livestream to address supporters from his home state of Delaware, Biden seemed ready to move past the primary. He paid tribute to the Vermont senator for advancing key issues like affordable health care and combating climate change.
“Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues. Together they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country,” Biden said.
“So let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Sen. Sanders, I hear you. I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do.”
Biden’s third big night in as many weeks came Tuesday amid tremendous uncertainty as the Democratic contest collides with efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus that has shut down large swaths of American life.
Polls were shuttered in Ohio, and although balloting went ahead as scheduled in the three other states, election workers and voters reported problems.
With the exception of North Dakota and the Northern Mariana Islands, Sanders hasn’t scored a victory since Super Tuesday on March 3.
He made no immediate move on Tuesday to contact Biden, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the candidates.
During remarks early in the night, Sanders said little about the future of the race and instead focused on the coronavirus outbreak.
The public health and economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus will nonetheless influence how the presidential contest unfolds.
Rallies and other big events have been cancelled. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez urged states with upcoming primaries to expand vote-by-mail and absentee balloting, as well as polling station hours — trying to ensure the primary isn’t further hampered going forward.
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and we must do everything we can to protect and expand that right instead of bringing our democratic process to a halt,” Perez said in a statement.
But the damage may have already happened.
Four states — Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland — have joined Ohio in moving to push back their upcoming primaries, and others may yet do so. That has left the Democratic primary calendar empty until March 29, when Puerto Rico is scheduled to go to the polls. But island leaders are working to reschedule balloting there, too.
That means there is nowhere for Sanders to gain ground on Biden anytime soon, even if he could find a way to mount a sudden surge.
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