Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) vowed Wednesday to stay in the 2020 Democratic presidential race despite a dismal showing in key states Tuesday night, adding that he “looks forward” to debating former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday.
“Last night, obviously, was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,” Sanders told reporters in a brief address from Burlington, Vermont. “We lost in the largest state up for grabs yesterday, the state of Michigan. We lost in Mississippi, Missouri, and Idaho.”
Biden decisive primary victories in Michigan, Missouri, Idaho and Mississippi Tuesday night helped expand his delegate lead to 160. As of Wednesday morning before the news conference, Biden was leading Sanders in the delegate count 857 to 709.
Sanders acknowledged that his campaign is “losing the debate over electability” because they “Democrats and independents today believe” Biden is best equipped to defeat President Trump in November.
“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability. I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who have said — and I quote — “I like what your campaign stands for. I agree with what your campaign stands for. But I’m going to vote for Joe Biden because I think Joe is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump,” he said. “We have heard that statement all over this country. Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion, but that is what millions of Democrats and independents today believe.”
He took a swipe at the democratic establishment, warning that nominating a candidate that fails to win the millennial voters could hurt their chances in the general election and beyond.
“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. You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older,” Sanders said. “While Joe Biden continues to do very well with older Americans, especially those people over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people and I am talking about people not just in their 20s, but in their 30s and their 40s, the younger generations of this country continue, in very strong numbers, to support our campaign.”
Sanders previewed a list of policy questions he plans to ask Biden at Sunday’s debate in Phoenix, including on health care costs and his signature “Medicare for All” proposal.
“Let me be very frank as to the questions that I will be asking Joe,” Sanders said. “Joe, what are you going to do for the 500,000 people who go bankrupt in our country because of medically related debt? And what are you going to do for the working people of this country and small business people who are paying on average 20 percent of their incomes to health care?”
The Democratic Socialist Senator will debate Biden one-on-one for the first time in the presidential race. He stated the debate hosted by CNN will show voters between the two candidate who is best equipped to beat Trump.
“Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen. On Sunday night, in the first one-on-one debate of this campaign, the American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to accomplish that goal,” Sanders concluded, leaving the podium without taking any questions from reporters.