Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) proclaimed victory even as he ended his presidential bid on Wednesday, claiming credit for pulling the party further to the left.
Sanders yielded the Democratic nomination to former vice president Joe Biden, who held a commanding lead over the self-proclaimed socialist senator. Even in defeat, Sanders claimed that his movement had "won the ideological struggle," pointing to the party's growing embrace of single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage, and the elimination of fossil fuels. Sanders boasted such views are now mainstream within the Democratic Party because of his two presidential campaigns.
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"Few would deny that over the course of the past five years our movement has won the ideological struggle," he said. "During the primary elections, exit polls showed in state after state a strong majority of Democratic primary voters supported a single government health insurance program to replace private insurance. That was true even in states where our campaign did not prevail."
Sanders, who lost the 2016 Democratic nomination fight to Hillary Clinton, also touted his strong support from younger voters as proof he had forced the party's hand.
"The future of this country is with our ideas," Sanders said.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden praised Sanders on Twitter as a "great leader" who had created a powerful political movement.
Sanders was briefly the Democratic frontrunner in February following wins in New Hampshire and Nevada, and Biden warned Sanders's socialist brand was politically toxic for the party.
But powered by his landslide win in South Carolina and subsequent flurry of endorsements from former challengers, Biden routed Sanders on Super Tuesday and steadily expanded his delegate lead to an insurmountable total. He said Tuesday he wanted Sanders to be part of his White House "journey" and that he agreed with much of the democratic socialist's views.
Sanders said Wednesday that while he was suspending his campaign, he would remain on the ballot in the remaining primary contests to amass as many delegates as possible and exert more influence over the party platform.