U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders gives a response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address during a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 4, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
“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,” the Vermont senator’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement Wednesday.
In a separate message to supporters, Shakir said Sanders will vote on a coronavirus relief bill in the Senate on Wednesday, then head to Vermont with his wife, Jane. They will then “begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign.”
On his way to the Capitol ahead of the vote, Sanders told reporters he is not dropping out of the race yet.
“There’s not going to be an election for another three weeks. We are talking to our supporters, but anybody who suggests at this point we are ending our campaign is not telling the truth,” he said, according to NBC News.
Biden won Democratic primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday, extending a dominant streak in key states following victories in Michigan and Washington last week. As he looks poised for easy wins in this week’s primaries, Biden will widen his delegate lead.
He has now amassed 1,132 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 817. A candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination.
In his statement, Shakir noted the next primary contest “is at least three weeks away.” The spreading coronavirus pandemic forced a string of states to delay their nominating events. Georgia was set to hold a primary on March 24 but pushed it back to May 19.
Coronavirus hovered over Tuesday’s votes as states and cities across the country effectively shut down normal American life. Ohio, which was set to hold a primary, postponed in-person voting to curb the outbreak.
Sanders spoke on Tuesday night as the three states voted, but only about the government response to coronavirus. He estimated the U.S. government would have to inject $2 trillion or more “to prevent deaths, jobs losses and to avoid an economic catastrophe.”
“We can do it. We can address this crisis. We can minimize the pain,” Sanders said. He called for emergency measures such as Medicare covering all coronavirus-related health costs and sending $2,000 monthly checks to every American household during the crisis.
On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump predicted Sanders’ demise in a tweet apparently aiming to sow discord in the party. He said the Democratic National Committee got its “fondest wish” and “defeated Bernie Sanders, far ahead of schedule.”
“Now they are doing everything possible to be nice to him in order to keep his supporters. Bernie has given up, just like he did last time. He will be dropping out soon!” the president wrote.
His tweet drew a sharp contrast from the olive branch Biden extended Tuesday night.
The former vice president took on the tone of a presumed presidential nominee Tuesday night. In remarks after his projected wins started to roll in, he extended an olive branch to Sanders’ devoted supporters, many of whom are young and feel he does not have a progressive enough platform.
“I hear you. I know what’s at stake,” he said. “I know what we have to do. Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president is to unify this party and then to unify this nation.”