Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could remain in the presidential race until June as the coronavirus pandemic continues to overshadow the Democrat presidential primary.
Despite suffering a load of key losses in the March primaries and nixing campaign ads following the disappointing showings, Sanders is not committing to dropping out of the race — at least, not yet. While it is true that his campaign indicated this month that it was reassessing — an admission almost always followed by imminent departure — Sanders has yet to formally close the door on his presidential aspirations.
Rather than keenly addressing his presidential future, Sanders has devoted the bulk of his time and energy to the coronavirus response, holding virtual roundtable discussions featuring special guests multiple times a week.
It has become clear Sanders is angling to use the negative situation to his political advantage, demonstrating his ability to handle a national crisis — a characteristic many look for in a presidential candidate. Notably, he has used his roundtable discussions and addresses on the coronavirus to push one of his hallmark proposals, Medicare for All, on several occasions.
“Our country is at a severe disadvantage compared to every other major country on earth because we do not guarantee health care to all people as a right,” Sanders said in an address this month:
While we work to pass a Medicare for All single-payer system, the United States government today must make it clear that in the midst of this emergency, everyone in our country — regardless of income or where they live — must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost.
“This is really about life and death,” Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner said.
“The senator is the only candidate in this race that has that capacity that he’s not just a candidate running for president, but he is a sitting United States senator who has an ability to weigh in on policy,” she added.
Meanwhile, the presidential hopeful has demonstrated irritability to questions regarding the future of his presidential campaign, bluntly telling CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju last week, “I’m dealing with a fucking global crisis.”
Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir shared that general sentiment, stating that the Vermont senator is “focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable.”
Even so, Sanders’ campaign signaled, again, that the presidential hopeful has no immediate intention of dropping out of the race. That became abundantly evident after the campaign confirmed that he would participate in an April debate if the Democratic National Committee (DNC) proceeded in scheduling one.
Bernie Sanders / Youtube
“Senator Sanders is still running for president,” Sanders campaign official Mike Casca said, according to the New York Times. “If there is a debate in April, he plans to be there.”
While Sanders devotes his energy to the economic and health crisis, his campaign is gearing up for primaries that could be postponed to June, including Ohio, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The Sanders campaign announced this month its intention to beef up its presence in Pennsylvania, although it made the announcement prior to the state’s decision to move its April 28 primary.
According to Politico, “his campaign is also touting that it is ramping up staff in New York, which a senior aide said is ‘a sign that he is still in.’”
“Bernie has every reason to stay in,” DNC member James Zogby said, according to Politico. “He has a role to play in policies of course, but also continuing to be the glue that holds the progressive movement together.”
Biden, who holds what many consider an unconquerable delegate lead, holds a different view.
“I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this,” Biden told reporters via Zoom on Wednesday.
While organizers are going over contingency plans due to the coronavirus, the DNC said the July convention is still slated to proceed as planned in July, but only time will tell if Sanders will soldier on until the very end.