Last night’s Democratic primary may have spelled the beginning of the end for Bernie Sanders candidacy.
Former VP Joe Biden swept to victory in Michigan’s pivotal primary contest Tuesday, while notching wins elsewhere in the Midwest and the South, building on his momentum from Super Tuesday a week ago and further clouding Sen. Bernie Sanders’ path forward in the presidential race.
Saying that America needs a president who “believes in empathy and compassion and respect for everyone,” rather than one bent on divisiveness, Biden said in a measured and unusually competent tone, as he addressed supporters in Philadelphia late Tuesday evening.
Biden certainly sounded like the presumptive nominee in his speech, striking a conciliatory tone rather than attacking his sole remaining rival’s radical policies.
“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” Biden said Tuesday night. “We share a common goal, and, together, we will defeat Donald Trump.”
The socialist Vermont senator did not make any public comments on Tuesday night, but his staff signaled that he is not conceding the race and will bring sharp attacks to Biden in Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate.
Two states have yet to be called, Washington State and North Dakota, but Biden took the night’s major prize, Michigan. A little after midnight, Idaho was also called for Biden.
Biden acknowledged “there’s a way to go,” but said it looks like “we’re gonna have another good night.”
Biden quickly claimed victories Tuesday night in Missouri and Mississippi, as well as Michigan, the largest delegate prize of the night.
Biden was up 53 percent to 38 percent in Michigan with roughly 86 percent of precincts reporting; he was posting even larger margins of victory in Mississippi and Missouri as of late Tuesday night. With these three wins alone, Biden was likely to substantially grow his delegate lead over Sanders, even as the results of the two other races remain outstanding.
The win in Michigan, in particular, was a body blow to Sanders, who narrowly pulled off an upset in that state four years ago against Hillary Clinton and had fought anew to demonstrate his appeal in the vital Rust Belt state this time around. The Midwestern battleground state helped send President Trump to the White House.
Biden, in his remarks, seemed to extend a hand to Sanders supporters — thanking the candidate and his voters for their “tireless energy and their passion.”
But Sanders’ campaign said he would not speak publicly at all Tuesday night — the first time the candidate has declined to address supporters in the aftermath of a primary vote this campaign season.
“There’s no sugar coating this. It’s a tough time for the movement,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of Sanders’ most prominent surrogates, said on Instagram.
Analysts say that Tuesday’s results show that Sanders’s major successes in his race against Clinton in 2016 had more to do with voters disliking Clinton than with the self-described socialist inspiring a wide-reaching “revolution.”
The Trump campaign, meanwhile, declared the primary race to be essentially moot, and pointed to what it has called Biden’s cognitive decline.
“It has never mattered who the Democrat nominee turns out to be, and now that there are only two options left, it is clear that they are two sides of the same coin,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “The Democrat candidate for president will be running on a big government socialist agenda regardless of the name on the ballot. It is also clear that the Democrat establishment has rallied around the confused Joe Biden in an effort to deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders. Either way, President Trump is on an unstoppable drive toward re-election.”