Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has no plans to withdraw from the presidential race, with his team expanding its efforts to prepare for the New York primary on June 23.
In a radio interview on Thursday with “1A,” a program that runs on NPR, Sanders said the rescheduling of primaries because of the coronavirus proves this presidential race is “very different than 2016.”
The move could be an attempt to try and force Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden’s hand. A person close to Sanders, who spoke to The Washington Post on anonymity, said Biden would have to drastically reshape his policy platform as a nod to Sanders to even attempt to get him to leave the race.
This has Democratic party leaders already fearing a redux of the 2016 presidential election when Sanders waited until the Democratic National Convention to concede to Hillary Clinton. Many of his supporters booed the move and never joined Clinton’s campaign.
Now four years later, former vice president Biden has an insurmountable delegate lead over Sanders and top-ranking Dems are worried that the longer he stays in the race, the more damage he does against Biden— although Sanders previously vowed to support the Democratic nominee.
“I just think it’s a terrible decision for him to make because he looks very selfish,” said former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, who threw her support behind Biden. Boxer said if Sanders really wishes to defeat Trump, “then get out.”
But if his team’s expanded digital organizing actions are any indicator, Sanders plans to debate Biden in April and continue even after the rescheduled June 23 New York primary. Those close to Sanders told The Washington Post that the senator is likely to remain in the race, like 2016, until the Democratic Convention in July.
Sanders is being encouraged to stay in the race by many of his allies.
“A political party is supposed to be a place where you actually debate. There are huge differences here,” Larry Cohen, a Sanders friend, told The Washington Post. “There needs to continue to be a reform movement in this party, not a coronation.”
Others say the move is selfish and damaging to the Democrats’ efforts to unseat Trump in November.
“Everyone should stop pretending that Bernie is doing anything other than helping Bernie,” Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, told The Post.