Sanders to return to Vermont and ‘assess’ his campaign 

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to “assess” his campaign after another string of primary losses. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Sen. Bernie Sanders is meeting with advisers to “assess” his presidential campaign after losing all three primary contests Tuesday night and falling behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for pledged delegates.

“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said in a statement Wednesday morning. 

“Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign,” he said before adding the Vermont senator is primarily focusing on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus.

The admission by Shakir comes after Sanders lost Florida, Illinois and Arizona — failing to claim more than 40% in any of the contests — and now trailing Biden by 290 delegates. The former vice president now has 1,153 and Sanders has 863.

In a separate email to supporters, Shakir said that while the night “did not go the way we wanted” the Vermont independent “has won the battle of ideas.” 

Shakir said that Sanders is expected to vote Wednesday in the U.S. Senate on COVID-19 response legislation and then will fly to Vermont with Jane O’Meara Sanders.

“Once there, they’ll begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign,” Shakir said.

A rumor swirled on the internet Wednesday that Sanders had decided to suspend his campaign, but campaign officials strongly denied any decision had been made.

On Tuesday night, as the polls began to close in Florida — a contest in which he received 22.8% of the vote — Sanders addressed the nation via a livestream to outline an estimated $2 trillion proposal to combat COVID-19 and an expected economic crisis.

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“In my own city, Burlington, Vermont, bars have been shut down, restaurants have been shut down, child care centers shut down, schools shut down, what happens to all the people who lose their jobs,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ proposal includes giving $2,000 to every household every month for the duration of the pandemic “to take care of basic needs,” making it so Medicare will cover all medical bills for all people throughout the state of emergency and utilize the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to build mobile hospitals and testing facilities. 

Sanders added it is imperative that large corporations not be allowed to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis and that the federal government’s first response should be to give relief to its citizens. 

“We must make certain that this health and economic crisis is not another money-making opportunity for corporate America and for Wall Street,” he said.

In recent weeks, Sanders has signaled the defeats on Super Tuesday and since then have changed his view of his chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

In appearances since early February, the Vermont senator has focused on the coronavirus, stressed that his campaign has been successful changing the Democratic Party and getting it to adopt his progressive policies and has rarely mentioned his performance in the primaries.

On Sunday, Biden announced he now supports making public colleges and universities tuition-free for students whose parents make less that $125,000 per year — adopting a proposal similar to Sanders’ free university and college loan forgiveness plan.

While it remains unclear what Sanders’ plans are, on March 13, the campaign announced he was staffing up in Pennsylvania, which does not hold its primary until April 28.

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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