Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign Wednesday following a string of primary races, clearing the way for former Vice President Joe Biden to become the Democratic nominee for the White House and face Donald Trump in November.
Sanders, 78, made the announcement in a call with his campaign staff, his campaign said.
"Today I am suspending my campaign. But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on," Sanders said on Twitter.
Sanders said the decision was "difficult and painful," but he had to make an "honest assessment of the prospects for victory."
His decision is a sharp turnaround from earlier successes, when he finished tied for first place in Iowa and racked up victories in New Hampshire and Nevada.
However, the campaign lost steam in South Carolina when Sanders lost to Biden. Political observers raised concerns about his apparent weaknesses with African-American voters.
Sanders lost all of the Southern states voting on Super Tuesday as well as states like Massachusetts and Minnesota.
Health concerns became an issue in October when he suffered a heart attack while campaigning in Las Vegas.
“Focusing on that new vision for America is what our campaign has been about and what in fact we have accomplished,’’ Sanders said. “Few would deny that over the course of the past five years our movement has won the ideological struggle.”
Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance said that "given that Senator Biden was viewed as more market-friendly than Senator Sanders, normally the news that Biden is now the presumptive nominee would likely have been viewed as net-positive for the market."
"However, this was already the assumed outcome and was likely 99% priced into the market already," he said.
Biden said in a statement that Sanders "hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement."
"And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday," Biden said. "That’s a good thing for our nation and our future."
Trump reacted to the announcement on Twitter.
"Bernie Sanders is OUT!" Trump wrote. "Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!"
A populist, Sanders championed such policies as “Medicare for all” and free four-year public colleges, but he faced opposition from many party leaders, elected officials and major donors, as well as many moderate voters.
The coronavirus outbreak disrupted the campaign and many states have postponed their primaries until June.
"In terms of healthcare, this current horrific crisis that we are now in has exposed for all to see how absurd our current-employer based health insurance system is," Sanders said Wednesday during a livestream address. "The current economic downturn we are experiencing has not only led to a massive loss of jobs, but also resulted in millions of Americans losing their health insurance."
This was Sanders' second run for the White House. He lost lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016.