Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropped out of the 2020 Democratic primary race on Wednesday, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
The senator held a livestream shortly after announcing the end of his campaign.
“Today I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward,” he said.
However, Sanders declared he would remain on the rest of the primary ballots.
“While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions,” he said.
Sanders also thanked his supporters.
“I want to express to each of you my deep gratitude for helping to create an unprecedented political grassroots campaign that has had a profound impact in changing our nation,” he said.
He struck a note of optimism, pointing to how support for universal health care, free higher education, and his other progressive proposals has grown over the past several years.
“It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe,” Sanders said. “Today they are mainstream ideas.”
Biden released a statement commending his rival for his role in the race.
“Bernie gets a lot of credit for his passionate advocacy for the issues he cares about,” Biden said. “But he doesn’t get enough credit for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mirror and ask if we’ve done enough.”
“While the Sanders campaign has been suspended — its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over,” he continued.
President Donald Trump immediately seized on the news in a Twitter spree, regurgitating his previous attempts to drive a wedge between Sanders supporters and the rest of the Democratic Party.
“This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco,” he tweeted. “The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!”
Trump’s reelection campaign had a similar response to Sanders’ announcement.
“Democrat elites shoved Bernie Sanders to the side for a second time, leaving many of his supporters looking for a new home,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Sanders had raced ahead of the crowded Democratic field after the nomination contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. However, his campaign took a major hit after Biden’s decisive victory in the South Carolina primary, then sustained another beating on Super Tuesday after Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Michael Bloomberg ended their bids and rallied around the former vice president.
Sanders has been in contact with former President Barack Obama over the past several weeks, according to CNN.
“While the content of those conversations remains private, there was always agreement that winning in the fall was paramount,” an unnamed source told CNN.
Even with his former vice president in the race, Obama refrained from making an endorsement, choosing instead to watch from the sidelines.