After rough night at the polls, Sanders presses on, but focuses on defeating Trump

Speaking Wednesday afternoon in his hometown of Burlington, Vt., just one day after he suffered a series of losses in the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed to continue his campaign for now, but outlined his ultimate goal — ousting President Trump.

“In my view, he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot,” Sanders said of the president. “He must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make it happen.”

Tuesday’s Democratic primaries in six states gave former Vice President Joe Biden a nearly insurmountable delegate lead, and left Sanders at a crossroads where he must decide whether to end his campaign or go forward amid increasingly long odds.

“Last night obviously was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,” Sanders said.

His remarks Wednesday shed light on his path forward, which appears focused on pressing Biden on a progressive policy agenda. He plans to do that during the debate that is set to take place Sunday in Phoenix.

Though Sanders’s path to the nomination looks increasingly unlikely, he did score a victory in North Dakota and is leading the ongoing vote count in Washington state. He noted that Biden won Michigan, Missouri, Idaho and Mississippi.

But even if Sanders does pull off a win in Washington, the delegate math is increasingly daunting for him.

However, he declared victory on other fronts. He said “poll after poll” shows a majority of Americans support elements of his agenda, including universal health care, free public education, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ending “mass incarceration,” overhauling the immigration system and mounting aggressive efforts to combat the “existential threat” of climate change. Biden offers more moderate approaches to each of these issues.

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders(I-VT) speaks to the press after loosing much of super Tuesday to US Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden the previous night, in Burlington, Vermont on March 11, 2020. - Senator Bernie Senator said March 11, 2020 he would take part in Sunday's debate with Joe Biden, giving no indication he plans to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. "On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend, Joe Biden," Sanders said, the day after Biden scooped a series of key wins in the most recent primaries. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to the press on Wednesday in Burlington, Vt. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

As he outlined the central components of his agenda, Sanders pointed out that polls and election results have shown he outperforms Biden among younger voters. Biden’s victories have been fueled by dominance among older voters.

“It is not just the ideological debate that our progressive movement is winning. We are winning the generational debate,” said Sanders. “While Joe Biden continues to do well with older Americans … our campaign continues to win the vast majority of votes with younger people.”

Sanders suggested the Democratic Party would benefit from being more responsive to the concerns of younger people who backed his platform.

“Today I say to the Democratic establishment: In order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them,” Sanders said. “You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older.”

He acknowledged, however, that he appeared to be “losing the debate over electability” with Democratic voters. He said his campaign team had heard from voters “all over this country” who said they agree with his policies but believe Biden “is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump.”

“Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion,” Sanders said.

He indicated he is eager to participate in Sunday’s debate and plans to question Biden about the former vice president’s plans for Americans struggling with medical bills and college education, and the energy issue, among other areas.

“I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend Joe Biden,” he said.

Sanders did not take any questions from the reporters who showed up to cover his remarks, which were announced shortly ahead of time. He ended by putting the focus back on his desire to see Trump lose.

“Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen,” Sanders said. “On Sunday night in the first one-on-one debate of the campaign, the American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to accomplish that goal.”


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