Former Vice President Joe Biden took a giant step towards capturing the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday by winning primaries in Florida, Arizona and Illinois.
The sweep included a mammoth victory in Florida, where Biden was ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 61.9 percent to 22.8 percent with 99 percent of the votes counted, according to The New York Times.
“Our campaign has had a very good night,” Biden said during an appearance in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We’ve moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president,” he said, Fox News reported. “And we’re doing it by building a broad coalition that we need to win in November, with strong support from the African-American community, the Latino community, high school-aged people, educated people … labor, teachers, suburban women, veterans, firefighters and so many more.”
Biden urged Sanders supporters to come aboard.
Sanders has so far refused to drop out, despite having little chance of winning the nomination.
“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 said.
“Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues,” he added. “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.”
Biden won Arizona with 43.6 percent of the vote against 31.6 percent for Sanders with 88 percent of the vote in, according to The Times. The balance of the voting was split among candidates who have dropped out of the race.
In Illinois, Biden won with 59.1 percent of the vote while Sanders received 36.1 percent, according to The Times.
Thank you to everyone in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois who supported our campaign. From day one, our goal has been to unify our party and our nation — and tonight, we are one step closer to achieving that goal. Let’s do this, together. pic.twitter.com/tcLufz2SBV
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) March 18, 2020
Sanders on Tuesday did not address the primary results.
Instead, he offered a live-streamed plan for addressing the economic ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We need to provide a direct $2,000 cash payment to every household in America for the duration of the crisis to provide them with the assistance they need to pay their bills and take care of their families,” Sanders said, according to The Hill.
Writing in The Boston Globe, James Pindell called the Sanders speech “the perfect encapsulation of where Sanders is at politically. He cannot hold large rallies due to the coronavirus. He can’t issue negative broadsides against Biden in a last-minute attempt to win the nomination because it is out of step in the pandemic mindset of voters. And the coronavirus is crowding out his ability to get needed news coverage.”
Pindell added that with Biden having all but locked up the race, “one thing that Sanders is definitely not doing after being routed in three primary contests on Tuesday: seriously running for president.”
The primary picture looking ahead is uncertain, due to the impact of the coronavirus on voting.
On Monday, Ohio canceled its primary.
Several states have moved scheduled primaries into June to respond to concerns that public gatherings should be avoided to blunt the spread of the virus.
Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, said her state went ahead with its voting because there was “no guarantee that there will be a safer time to hold this election in the near future.”
“The longer we wait, the more difficult and dangerous it could become,” she said.
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