Burlington: Bernie Sanders is vowing to press ahead with his presidential campaign at least long enough to debate Joe Biden this weekend, even while acknowledging his deficit in the Democratic race may be insurmountable.
The Vermont senator on wednesday offered no further details on what his campaign may look like before or after he and Biden the last two major candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination spar sunday night on stage in Arizona.
The only thing on Sanders’ public schedule was taping an appearance on wednesday’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
That will continue to raise questions as unlikely as it may seem less than two weeks after losing his once-commanding front-runner status about how long Sanders will persist against increasingly daunting odds, especially as the pressure within his own party increases exponentially.
Sanders addressed reporters in Burlington after offering no public statements tuesday night, when he suffered a devastating defeat in Michigan and losses in Missouri, Idaho and Mississippi.
Sanders noted that he won North Dakota and that the continuing count in Washington state remained close but admitted he was trailing badly in the race to secure enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
Sanders promised to press Biden for answers about millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance, a criminal justice system he said unfairly targets and punishes minorities and raising the federal minimum wage.
After that, though, Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat Trump could affect his calculus. Should Sanders get out soon, he could save Democrats months of a messy and expensive primary fight.
But an early departure would also deprive the party’s most passionate supporters, including many young people, of the one man who embodies the dramatic change they crave.
Sanders now needs 57% of the delegates not won so far to get to 1991, the magic number to win the nomination. Both delegate allocation math and voting history show how unlikely it is for Sanders to hit that goal and overtake Biden.
Adding to the uncertainty is the spread of coronavirus, which forced both Sanders and Biden to cancel campaign events tuesday night in Cleveland and prompted Sanders’ team to say it would evaluate future events on a case-by-case basis.
Beyond the debate, the primary calendar could get even bleaker for Sanders. Next week, four more states vote and while he is hoping his support with Hispanic voters can lift him in Arizona, Sanders may struggle in two of the most important ones, Illinois and Florida where some voters could be alienated by his recent comments defending Fidel Castro’s communist government in Cuba.