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March 12, 2020

Biden shaping up to face off Trump after big wins

AFP
March 12, 2020

DETROIT: Joe Biden’s trajectory to a November showdown with US President Donald Trump looked unstoppable on Wednesday after he scooped a series of devastating primary wins — as the party waited anxiously to see if his rival Bernie Sanders would concede and rally behind the presumptive nominee.

Pressure was mounting on Sanders to end his campaign as Biden inflicted defeats in Mississippi, Missouri, Idaho and Michigan, carving a clear path to becoming the Democratic standard bearer in a potentially bruising matchup with Trump.

Addressing supporters in Philadelphia as his victory took shape, 77-year-old centrist Biden reached out to Sanders, thanking the leftist Vermont senator and his supporters for their “tireless energy and their passion”.

The former vice president struck a unifying tone as he affirmed on national television that he and Sanders “share a common goal and together we will defeat Donald Trump.” Another of the six states on offer, North Dakota, was called for Sanders early Wednesday. He also led the count by around 2,100 votes in Washington state, the other major prize of Tuesday’s primaries, with around 70 per cent of the vote counted.

But Biden’s win in Michigan, the Midwestern industrial state which could be a key battleground in November, was a major setback, prompting calls for Sanders to pull out.

The main question is whether Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, will fight to the bitter end, as he did four years ago against Clinton, or bow out early.

“Yes, it will be vital for Sanders to mobilise his supporters behind the ticket,” tweeted Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer. “But Biden has to reach out to Sanders’s energised movement. It will require a two-way effort to unite the ticket.”

Many Democrats accuse the firebrand Sanders and his devoted supporters of damaging Clinton just as she was struggling — ultimately unsuccessfully — against the

Trump insurgency.

Sanders did not immediately address Tuesday’s results. His press secretary indicated he had no intention of pulling out, touting Sunday’s next debate as the chance for America to “see Biden defend his ideas or lack thereof.”

But Democratic superPAC Priorities USA, which had been neutral in the race, came out in support of Biden after Tuesday’s results. “What tonight has made clear is that the delegate math is now a straight line to Joe Biden’s nomination,” chairman Guy Cecil told US public radio network NPR.