Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who became the first Jewish front-runner in a major party nomination race for president, is suspending his campaign.

The campaign told followers on Wednesday to tune in for a “special message” at 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. The media said Sanders was suspending his campaign, paving the way for Joe Biden, a former vice president and senator, to be the Democratic nominee.

For a period early in the primaries, Sanders led a field that had been whittled down to about half a dozen candidates. Biden overtook Sanders on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states voted, and Sanders has not been able to make up the difference.

An early April departure is a marked change from 2016, when Sanders did not suspend until well into the summer, although Hillary Clinton was the clear front-runner. Sanders made history that election by becoming the first Jewish candidate to win major-party nominating contests.

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Sanders and Biden are closer than Sanders was with Clinton and have spoken often during the campaign. Additionally, Sanders in 2016, like many other Democrats, was operating under the assumption that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, could not win. This time, however, there is greater pressure on Democrats to get their act together early to defeat Trump in November.

Sanders ran an aggressive Jewish campaign this time, blasting videos with Jewish messages over social media. Notably the messages were aimed not only at Jewish voters, but at others who might have been attracted to Sanders’ message of a more inclusive polity.

Sanders also likely wants to coordinate with Biden in advancing health care reform and greater economic parity at a time when the coronavirus is afflicting hundreds of thousands of Americans and has upended the economy.

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