Sen. Bernie Sanders, the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history, dropped out of the presidential race on Wednesday, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders said in a livestreamed address to supporters. “And so today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”
Sanders said that he would remain on the ballot in states that have yet to hold primary contests, in order to elect as many delegates as possible so as to influence the Democratic platform at the party convention this summer.
Sanders was the best fundraiser out of the more than 20 major Democratic candidates, buoyed by an army of small-dollar donations. The Vermont independent won big victories in the New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucus (as well as a virtual tie in the race’s first contest in Iowa). But after Biden won a resounding victory in South Carolina, moderate candidates dropped out and endorsed him, and Sanders was unable to grow his support on Super Tuesday and beyond, leading to several more Biden wins, leading to an almost insurmountable deficit for the democratic socialist.
In his address, Sanders called Biden a “very decent man” and pledged to work with him to defeat President Trump, whom he characterized as “the most dangerous president in modern American history.”
Sanders said that despite his delegate defeats, he had won the ideological and generational fight, referring to exit polls showing strong Democratic support for his Medicare-for-All proposal even in states that he lost. He also pointed out the strong support he received from young voters. “The future of this country is with our ideas,” he said.
Sanders also pledged to use his platform as a senator to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and economic crash. The outbreak “has exposed for all to see how absurd our current employer-based health insurance system is,” he said.
Unlike in 2016, Sanders was much more vocal about his Jewish identity, promoting it in his speeches and several campaign ads. His campaign was also targeted by anti-Semitic protests and vandalism on multiple occasions.
While Sanders underperformed in the Jewish community, he did have a resounding following among young voters, Latinos and Muslims.
Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink