BOSTON (CN) — Eager for a one-on-one debate, Senator Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that he will stay in the 2020 presidential race despite losing to former Vice President Joe Biden in the Michigan primary.
“Last night obviously was not a good night for our campaign,” Sanders said at a press conference livestreamed from Burlington, Vermont, as results continue to roll in from the six states that held primaries Tuesday.
But “while we are currently losing the delegate count” — Sanders estimated he was behind by about 800 to 660 delegates — “we are strongly winning in two enormous areas.”
First, Sanders said, “a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda,” which including Medicare for All, free college and cancellation of student debt.
Second, he said, “we are winning the generational debate.”
CNN is set to hold the first one-on-one event between the candidates on Sunday, without a live audience owing to developing coronavirus outbreak.
“Biden does well with people over 65,” Sanders noted Wednesday, but “our campaign continues to win the overwhelming majority of younger people — and I’m not just talking about people in their 20s, but people in their 30s and 40s.
“I say to the Democratic establishment … you cannot simply be satisfied with winning the votes of people who are older,” Sanders went on.
Despite these advantages, Sanders’ analysis was that “we are losing the debate over electability.” He said an enormous number of people believe in what he stands for but are voting for Biden because they think he is the best candidate to defeat President Trump. Sanders said he hopes to change that perception.
Perhaps trying to emphasize his opposition to Trump, Sanders described the president as a pathological liar, corrupt, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and a religious bigot.
At the debate, Sanders said he plans to press Biden on a number of topics: demanding to know “what are you gonna do” on climate change, health care for all, “outrageous levels of student debt,” mass incarceration and “a racist criminal justice system.” Sanders pledged that he will also ask Biden if he plans to veto a Medicare for All bill if it is passed by Congress.
Sanders had criticized Biden at a Fox News town hall on Monday for giving seven-minute campaign speeches. He said he typically speaks for 45 minutes to an hour, and he didn’t see how Biden could say anything “honest” or “substantive” in just seven minutes.
The Washington state primary remains too close to call at press time, but Biden has been declared the winner of Tuesday contests in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Sanders won the North Dakota caucuses.
The next primaries are set for on Tuesday, March 17, in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, which between them have 577 delegates at stake.
A week later, Georgia, with 105 delegates, will hold its race.