Joe Biden tightens grip on White House contest

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 00:00 |
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden with his wife Jill Biden, addresses supporters at the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, yesterday. Photo/AFP

Philadelphia, Wednesday

Joe Biden moved a giant step closer to a November showdown with Donald Trump after notching up big primary wins Tuesday over Bernie Sanders, his sole remaining challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden, 77, the centrist former vice president, scored a resounding win in Michigan, where Sanders, 78, the leftist senator from Vermont, had hoped to make a stand.

He also cruised to victory in Missouri, Idaho and Mississippi, three of the other five states to vote on Tuesday.

Addressing supporters in Philadelphia as his victory took shape, Biden struck a presidential tone as he declared on national television that he would lead “a comeback for the soul of this nation.”

“Tonight we’re a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honour to the White House,” he said.

Biden reached out to his sometimes bitter rival Sanders and his supporters, telling them “we share a common goal.”

“Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump,” he said.

Biden’s huge victory in Mississippi, where he won around 80 percent of the vote, reflected his popularity among strategically vital African-American voters. He defeated Sanders by 25 points in Missouri.

His win in Michigan, the Midwestern industrial state which could be a key battleground in November, was a major setback for Sanders, who narrowly beat Hillary Clinton there four years ago.

Sanders led the count by less than 2,000 votes in Washington state, the other major prize of Tuesday’s primaries, with around 70 percent of the vote counted on Wednesday morning. He was also leading by six points in North Dakota.

Devoted supporters

Barring surprises, Biden now has a clear path to becoming the Democratic standard bearer in a potentially bruising and deeply divisive matchup with Trump.

The main question remaining 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.

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. But 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.”

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic New York congresswoman who is one of Sanders’ most high-profile supporters, said there was no “sugarcoating” the results, however. -AFP

More on News