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Photo: ANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Wednesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign.

The big picture: It's an end to the campaign of the leading progressive in the race — and the candidate who seemed to be the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination just a few months ago. It also makes Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee four months before the party's convention in Milwaukee.

  • Sanders, a democratic socialist whose signature campaign proposal was Medicare for All, had the enthusiastic backing of young voters and powerful momentum after a strong victory in the Nevada caucuses.
  • But he couldn't compete after one moderate candidate after another dropped out and endorsed Biden, driven by the desire to stop the nomination from going to a candidate they saw as too far left to defeat Trump.
  • Sanders has said he will support the Democratic nominee against Trump no matter what.

The backstory: Sanders gained a dedicated following in the 2016 primary, allowing him to enter the 2020 field with notable name recognition and strong grassroots support that helped fuel a massive fundraising operation.

  • He reached front-runner status near the turn of February, receiving the second-most delegates in Iowa before taking first in the New Hampshire primaries and Nevada caucuses.

But then Biden won South Carolina in February, largely due to his endorsement from "kingmaker" Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C) and his strength with black voters.

  • That began his rapid comeback, fueled by the endorsements of two moderate candidates who dropped out just before Super Tuesday: former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
  • Biden then dominated the Super Tuesday contests. He later won Michigan, the pivotal swing state that Sanders won in 2016, and Florida, extending what was effectively an insurmountable delegate lead.

After Super Tuesday, Sanders said he would remain in the race and debated Biden one-on-one in an effort to move the presumptive nominee to the left on several key issues. That strategy was at least partially successful, as Biden adopted Sanders' plan on college tuition and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan for bankruptcy reform.

The bottom line: The coronavirus has been smothering Sanders’ already difficult path to a comeback. 

  • The Bernie movement was built on on massive rally crowds and huge canvassing efforts, all of which has come to a grinding halt with social distancing. 
  • Sanders' chance to make his case on TV and social media has been crowded out by the public and media focus on the virus. For example, cable networks broke away from their primary coverage last month to discuss the virus.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

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