Bernie Sanders drops out of the 2020 race

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — a onetime frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination — announced Wednesday that he was suspending his 2020 campaign, after a series of electoral defeats in a number of primary races. With Sanders out, former Vice President Joe Biden now has an unobstructed path to secure his spot as the Democratic nominee.

Sanders, whose campaign was defined by its unapologetic progressivism, announced his decision to staff during a phone call Wednesday morning, according to multiple outlets.

Speaking publicly after notifying staff, Sanders admitted his campaign had no legitimate path to the nomination, but struck a hopeful note, explaining: “Our movement has won the ideological struggle. The future of this country is with our ideas.” He also tied the timing of his decision to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying, “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign I cannot win and which would interfere the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”

With Sanders out, Democrats have essentially settled on (or are resigned to) nominating Biden, whose campaign started slow amid his many verbal gaffes and apparently low enthusiasm from early-state voters. In recent weeks, Biden has offered uneven, largely bland responses to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — a sign of his lingering faith that he can broker compromise in a fractured nation and his preference for appearing as a stable corrective to President Trump’s political mania.

Biden has also faced increasing calls to address allegations of sexual assault from Alexandra Tara Reade, who claimed he’d attacked her in 1993 while she was a member of his Senate staff. Biden's camp has denied Reade's allegation, but the candidate himself hasn't offered public comment.

Sanders, meanwhile, had pivoted from running a campaign to win voters to one dedicated to pushing aid and resources to address the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks. It was, in many ways, a perfect encapsulation of Sanders's entire run at the presidency — one in which ideological strenth may have come at the expense of political maneuvering.

Meanwhile, members of Trump's re-election team have wasted little time trying to equate Biden with Sanders's unabashed progressivism:

The president himself, however, went out of his way to use Sanders’s exit as an opportunity to bash the Democratic Party in general.

Despite bad faith insinuations to the contrary, Sanders has repeatedly pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee, regardless of who that person may be. He additionally signaled that while his campaign is over, his fight isn’t, telling supporters: “I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.”

This is a breaking news story and has been updated.