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Washington: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he is reassessing his campaign, raising questions about whether he will drop out after losing three more states and falling prohibitively behind Joe Biden in the 2020 race.
In this image from video provided by BernieSanders.com, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks.Credit:Berniesanders.com
A Sanders spokesman denied a report that the Vermont senator was suspending his campaign, but that word came as Sanders pulled down digital advertising on Facebook and Google, triggering further confusion in a contest already upended by the coronavirus.
Earlier Wednesday, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders "is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign." But Shakir also suggested that Sanders was in no hurry to make any decisions about ending his 2020 bid, noting that "the next primary contest is at least three weeks away."
More immediately, Shakir said, Sanders "is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable."
Reports later surfaced that Sanders was suspending his campaign, prompting spokesman Mike Casca to say that the candidate was "not suspending. Nothing has changed since this morning's statement."
In the meantime, Sanders' campaign deactivated digital ads purchased as recently as Tuesday.
Even if Sanders decides to keep running, he has little hope of catching Biden, who used victories in Florida, Illinois and Arizona to collect nearly twice as many delegates as Sanders on Tuesday. Sanders now needs to win more than 63 per cent of the remaining 1757 delegates. President Donald Trump awaits the nominee.
For Sanders, catching up would be the tallest of orders under any circumstances. But that task is even tougher in a political world turned upside-down, along with daily life, amid efforts to combat a pandemic that has killed more than 100 people in the United States.
Neither candidate is travelling or holding campaign rallies, and much of the electorate has been staying home.
With the exception of North Dakota and the Northern Mariana Islands, Sanders has not won a contest since Super Tuesday on March 3. He made no moves to contact Biden immediately after Tuesday's results, according to people familiar with the situation who discussed the matter on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak for the candidates. During online remarks before most results were in, Sanders said little about the future of the race.
Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, "Ground Game."
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