Bernie Sanders on Wednesday dashed speculation over an immediate end to the Democratic primary contest, saying he remains in the fight against centrist frontrunner Joe Biden, despite pressure to withdraw.
After struggling in the early primary contests, Biden has seen a remarkable surge over the last two weeks as the Democratic Party establishment has consolidated around his campaign.
Following up his dominant “Super Tuesday” performance last week, Biden won four of six states that voted Tuesday, including Michigan, the biggest delegate prize of the night.
Sanders won in North Dakota and enjoys a narrow lead in Washington, though the race remains too close to call.
In a short, passionate speech carried on live television Wednesday, Sanders said his campaign is winning the battle of ideas and the younger generations, but is losing the battle over perceived “electability.”
Sanders has been dominant among younger Americans throughout the campaign but has struggled to win the support of older voters, particularly those over 65.
"We are winning the ideological debate. We are winning the generational debate.
— Sunrise Movement ???? (@sunrisemvmt) March 11, 2020
And while exit polls show that a majority of voters in every contest so far support his landmark “Medicare for All” single-payer health care proposal, that support has not necessarily translated into votes.
“I can not tell you how many people our campaign have spoken to who have said, ‘I like what your campaign stands for. I agree with what your campaign stands for. But I’m going to vote for Joe Biden because I believe Joe is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump,'” Sanders said Wednesday.
“Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion. But that is what millions of Democrats and Independents believe.”
Nonetheless, the Senator warned that the Democratic Party is taking a risk if it ignores the will of the youth of the country.
“Today I say to the Democratic establishment, in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters that represent the future of our country and you must speak to the issues of concern to them.”
Those concerns, Sanders said, include the looming ecological crisis caused by climate change, soaring levels of income and wealth inequality, a “cruel and dysfunctional” healthcare system, a “racist” criminal justice system, and a student debt crisis that is weighing down younger generations.
While states including California and Washington are still counting votes, it appears Biden currently leads Sanders in delegates by about 800 to 660.
Good god pic.twitter.com/XLzBqTAC6J
— max (@MaxOnTwitter) March 11, 2020
Though Sanders acknowledged Tuesday that the path ahead of his campaign is daunting, he said he will press forward and challenge Biden on a number of core issues at a debate scheduled for Sunday in Arizona.
“Joe, what are you going to do for the 500,000 people who go bankrupt in our country because of medically related debt?” he said, previewing the issues he intends to raise through the remainder of the campaign.
“Joe, what are you going to do to end the absurdity of the United States of American being the only major country on Earth where health care is not a human right?”
The next round of voting will be held on March 17, when voters in Ohio, Flordia, Illinois, and Arizona will go to the polls.
This article contains reporting from AFP.
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