Speculation was in high supply Wednesday as far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Democratic presidential campaign discontinued digital advertising on Facebook without warning.
Coming the morning after a clean sweep for former Vice President Joe Biden in three key late-race nominating battles, the decision initially prompted reports from Axios, which suggested Sanders would be suspending his campaign altogether.
According to Fox News, similar digital advertising suspensions had acted as early indicators just two weeks prior, when former mayors Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg stepped out of the race surrounding Biden’s Super Tuesday surge to reclaim the mantle of front-runner.
Sanders campaign communications director Mike Casca, however, would quickly put to rest rumors of a full withdrawal for the Vermont senator, writing Wednesday morning on Twitter that they were “absolutely false.”
👀 The Sanders campaign has no active Facebook ads at the moment pic.twitter.com/iu8J7e2zto
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) March 18, 2020
The candidate reportedly also issued a personal denial from the Hill, where senators remained this week through a scheduled recess in an attempt to pass bipartisan legislation formalizing a federal response plan for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak within the United States.
Previous statements from campaign manager Faiz Shakir indicated Sanders had shifted gears for the “immediate term” to focus on pandemic response, but would be having candid conversations with supporters “to assess his campaign” in the weeks leading up to the must-win April 4 contests in Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming.
“No sugarcoating it, last night did not go the way we wanted,” Shakir wrote in a campaign email to supporters. “While our campaign has won the battle of ideas, we are losing the battle over electability to Joe Biden. So we wanted to give you an update on what is next for Bernie and for our campaign.”
“After this [coronavirus response] vote today, Bernie and Jane are going to get on a plane back to Vermont,” Shakir continued. “Once there, they’ll begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign.”
“We will keep you updated as those conversations progress,” he added.
In an email to supporters, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, says Sanders and his wife will fly to Burlington after today’s likely coronavirus vote and “begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign.” pic.twitter.com/bCSllH5lhJ
— Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) March 18, 2020
— mike casca (@cascamike) March 18, 2020
Biden has turned heads in the few short weeks since spring-boarding out of a first-to-vote state slump in South Carolina, claiming victory in 18 of the following 24 contests and setting himself up to earn the 1,991 delegate threshold necessary to secure the nomination outright, according to RealClearPolitics.
Best estimates from FiveThirtyEight suggested prior to Biden’s Super Tuesday surge that a two-man race with Sanders, widely perceived as the “movement candidate,” would more likely than not result in a contested Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee come July.
But success for Biden in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington state last week — followed Tuesday by Arizona, Florida and Illinois — greatly shifted those estimates in the Pennsylvania-born Democrat’s favor, giving him 99:1 odds to secure the nomination.
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Winning big with more than 20 percentage point margins of victory in Florida and Illinois did not lead Biden to celebrate big, however.
Instead, Fox News reported, the increasingly progressive candidate seemed to use the evening as an opportunity to extend a hand to Sanders’ loyal, excitable following given the mounting odds.
“Our campaign has had a very good night,” Biden said. “We’ve moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president — and we’re doing it by building a broad coalition that we need to win in November.”
“Senator Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision for the need to provide affordable health care for all Americans, reducing income inequality hat has risen so drastically, to tackling the existential threat of our time, climate change,” Biden continues. “[They] have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues.”
“Together, they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country. So let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders. I hear you,” he added.
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