BERNIE Sanders has dropped out of the presidential race, leaving former vice president Joe Biden as the likely Democratic nominee to rival Donald Trump in November’s election.

The 78-year-old Vermont senator’s announcement yesterday came after disappointing primary results, losing in crucial states such as Michigan and Florida.

The coronavirus pandemic additionally left him unable to hold events in the last few weeks.

“The path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders told supporters as he congratulated Biden.

The former vice president is “a very decent man whom I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward”, he said.

Biden credited Sanders for creating “a movement” and appealed to his progressive supporters.

“I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” Biden said.

“I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”

Sanders had initially exceeded expectations about his ability to recreate the magic of his 2016 presidential bid, and even overcame a heart attack last October on the campaign trail.

But he found himself unable to convert unwavering support from progressives into a viable path to the nomination amid “electability” fears fuelled by questions about whether his democratic socialist ideology would be palatable to general election voters.

The senator began his latest White House bid facing questions about whether he could win back the supporters who chose him four years ago as an insurgent alternative to the party establishment’s choice, Hillary Clinton.

Despite winning 22 states in 2016, there were no guarantees he would be a major presidential contender this cycle, especially as the race’s oldest candidate.

Sanders, though, used strong polling and solid fundraising – collected almost entirely from small donations made online – to quiet his early doubters.

He amassed the most votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, which opened primary voting, and cruised to an easy victory in Nevada – seemingly leaving him well positioned to sprint to the Democratic nomination.

But a crucial endorsement of Biden by influential South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, and a subsequent, larger-than-expected victory in South Carolina, propelled the former vice-president into Super Tuesday, when he won 10 of 14 states. In a matter of days, his top former Democratic rivals lined up and announced their endorsement of Biden.

Things only got worse the following week when Sanders lost Michigan, where he had campaigned hard and upset Clinton in 2016. He was also beaten in Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho the same night, and the results were so decisive that Sanders headed to Vermont without speaking to the media.

Sanders made clear that while he is exiting the campaign, he will keep pushing for progressive principles. “Please stay in this fight with me,” he told supporters. “The struggle continues.”

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