Sanders Remains in Race, Says He Will Debate Joe Biden

March 11, 2020 Updated: March 11, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

After suffering a defeat on Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he is staying in the 2020 Democratic race and will partake in a debate on Sunday against former Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona.

“Donald Trump must be defeated and I will do everything in my power to make that happen,” he said in a news conference in Burlington, Vermont, adding, “I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend, Joe Biden.”

Sanders noted that while he has significant grassroots support among Democrats and that many of them support his proposals, “We are losing the debate over electability.” Elaborating further, the Vermont senator said he heard statements from Americans to his campaign that they agree with his progressive ideas but feel that Biden is the more “electable” candidate against President Donald Trump in November.

Ahead of the Arizona debate, Sanders previewed several questions that he would like to ask Biden. They include Biden’s plan for healthcare, college debt, immigration, and the prison system.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on Feb. 25, 2020 in Charleston, S.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“What are you gonna do for the working people in this country?” he asked.

Sunday’s debate will feature only Sanders and Biden after Democratic officials said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) doesn’t qualify.

Six states voted on Tuesday night, including Mississippi, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington state, and the delegate-rich state of Michigan. Sanders lost in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, and Missouri, allowing Biden to widen his lead in the delegate count. Sanders won in North Dakota, and Washington state is still being counted.

A week before that, on Super Tuesday, Biden was able to take the lead from Sanders for the first time, prompting questions about Sanders’s electability during the general election. Last month, Biden was able to resurrect his campaign after falling behind several other candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa, leveraging that victory during the March 3 contests.

Biden also was buoyed by endorsements from former 2020 candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former congressman Beto O’Rourke. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) dropped out last week but hasn’t endorsed anyone.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump again alleged on Twitter that Warren worked “in conjunction with the Democrat Party” to destroy Sanders’s campaign, adding that if she had quit days before Super Tuesday, the Vermont senator would have defeated Biden.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Biden has 857 delegates to Sanders’s 709.