It’s officially Trump vs. Biden.
Sen. Bernie Sanders finally threw in the towel Wednesday on his sputtering presidential bid following weeks of mounting calls for him to exit the race.
The democratic socialist from Vermont conceded he had no viable path to victory and told supporters he had made the “difficult and painful” decision to suspend his campaign.
“I wish I could give you better news but I think you know the truth and that is we are some 300 delegates behind Vice President Joe Biden and the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” he said in a broadcast to more than 100,000 supporters and media where he still claimed at length to have been the victor in an “ideological battle.”
“While this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not,” Sanders, 78, said.
Sanders’ departure now paves the way for a face-off between President Trump, 73, and Biden, 77, even before the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions in August.
New polls released Wednesday show that while Trump’s approval rating is at an all-time high of 45 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic, the gaffe-prone Biden still leads in head-to-head general election matchups.
Biden tops Trump 49-41 percent in a nationwide Quinnipiac Poll and a RealClearPolitics polling average shows Biden ahead 49.7-43.3.
Despite admitting defeat to Biden, Sanders said he would be staying on the ballot in remaining primary states to push his ideological agenda at the Democratic National Convention, stating he would amass as many delegates as possible to “exert significant influence over the party platform.”
New York state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs called that decision a “mistake” and said it would only divide the party further.
“The nominating process is not about achieving artistic success, it’s about nominating a candidate for president,” Jacobs told The Post.
Biden’s triumph over a bloated field of Democratic candidates — at one point ballooning to 27 presidential wannabes — marks a Lazarus-like rise after his campaign was essentially written off earlier this year following disastrous fourth- and fifth-place finishes in early states Iowa and New Hampshire and some off-kilter performances at debates.
Sanders’ own campaign appeared all but over after he suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail last October, but he stayed in the race and became the front-runner after a series of razor-thin victories until the Democratic Party rapidly coalesced around Biden in early March and saved his ailing White House bid.
Trump made an appeal for Sanders’ supporters to join the Republican Party after he suspended his campaign and preyed on tensions within the Democratic movement.
In three tweets Wednesday, Trump repeated his claim that the Democratic Party had done wrong by Sanders and his legion of fervent supporters, and accused former candidate Elizabeth Warren of costing him victory.
“Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!” Trump wrote.
He also tweeted, “Wow, Bernie is unwilling to give up his delegates, and wants more of them! What’s that all about?” and, “Can’t see AOC plus 3 supporting Sleepy Joe!”
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