News Analysis: Sanders' exit won't end his impact on 2020 U.S. presidential race

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WASHINGTON, April 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont dropped out from the presidential race on Wednesday, paving the way for former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to become the Democratic nominee for an upcoming showdown with sitting President Donald Trump.

"The path to victory is virtually impossible," Sanders said in a live-streamed address to supporters. "I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, and so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign."

"I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour," acknowledged Sanders, while insisting that he and his supporters have won "the ideological battle."

The announcement was hardly a surprise since Biden had already amassed a big lead over Sanders in the primary that has been put on pause due to a coronavirus outbreak across the United States.

A 78-year-old, self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders launched his second bid for the White House in February 2019, years after he lost to former U.S. Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton in the last Democratic primary in 2016.

In the second primary, Sanders finished strong in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, elevating him as the field's prohibitive front-runner. But the momentum stalled in South Carolina, where Biden revived his campaign with a resounding victory that kicked off his consecutive Super Tuesday wins.

"If you look at the remaining primary calendar (such as it is), there aren't really any obvious places where Sanders was likely to beat Biden, or have much chance of an upset," Christopher Galdieri, associate professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told Xinhua.

"I think the prospect of a bunch of losses in primaries delayed for coronavirus mitigation was not a pleasant one, or one good for his long-term influence in Congress and politics more broadly," Galdieri said.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Trump tried to sow discord among Democrats, blaming Sanders' loss of momentum on his rival and fellow liberal, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

"Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday!" Trump wrote. "The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!"

Despite a second failed attempt for the White House, Sanders will continue to exert his influence on the Democratic Party's platform and could potentially impact the Biden-Trump matchup, analysts and pundits said.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Sanders offered his congratulations to Biden, vowing to work with him but stopping short of offering the endorsement.

"While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible to assert influence over the party platform and functions," Sanders said.

Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief of American daily USA Today, said in a Wednesday analysis that Sanders' exit from the race and "warm words" for Biden mean that "the Democratic Party has united behind a nominee earlier than in any open contest in nearly two decades."

"That doesn't ensure victory," Page noted. "But the opposite situation might have invited defeat."

In a statement on Wednesday, Biden said Sanders and his supporters "have changed the dialogue in America."

"Bernie has done something rare in politics. He hasn't just run a political campaign; he's created a movement," Biden said. "While the Sanders campaign has been suspended -- its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over."

Appealing to Sanders' base, Biden, a 77-year-old moderate political veteran, echoed some key components of the senator's progressive platform, including addressing climate change, confronting the nation's income inequality, reforming its health care system, and making education at public colleges and universities free.

"I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You're needed," Biden said.

David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, tweeted Wednesday that the degree of passion Sanders "has generated -- particularly among the young -- around issues of economic and social justice is impressive," warning that their "legitimate concerns around the failures of the status quo" should not be ignored or dismissed.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, analysts believed that there will be a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Biden-Trump matchup in the 2020 presidential election.

While the outbreak has plunged the U.S. economy into recession and "made unemployment skyrocket," it has also clearly "reshuffled everyone's plans," Galdieri said.

"It's also forced both candidates off the campaign trail," he continued. "It's an open question as to whether any in-person campaigning will happen for the rest of the race, and nobody knows what that will mean for the election." Enditem

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