Bernie Sanders, whose ideas for transforming the economy extended to his views on farm and rural policy, ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, but he claimed victory for his ideology while pledging to support Vice President Joe Biden.
The Vermont senator is not releasing his delegates to Biden and said he would continue to gather delegates in the remaining primaries in hopes of shaping the party platform and building his influence at the Democratic National Convention in August.
In a webcast statement to supporters, Sanders called Biden a “very decent man” and assured supporters he would work with Biden “to move our progressive ideas forward.”
Sanders said his decision to drop out of the race was rooted in part in the COVID-19 pandemic. "As I see the crisis gripping the nation, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere in the important work required of all of us,” he said.
However, he also said his showing in the 2016 and 2020 campaigns had vindicated his ideas and shown that younger voters overwhelmingly support his socialist vision. "Not only are we wining the struggle ideologically we are also winning it generationally,” Sanders said.
Biden said in a statement that Sanders and his supporters “have changed the dialogue in America. Issues which had been given little attention - or little hope of ever passing - are now at the center of the political debate. Income inequality, universal health care, climate change, free college, relieving students from the crushing debt of student loans.”
Biden also addressed Sanders supporters in a tweet: "I know that I need to earn your votes. And I know that might take time. But I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of this moment. I hope you'll join us. You're more than welcome: You're needed."
Trump, in a tweet, needled Sanders for continuing to pursue delegates. "Wow, Bernie is unwilling to give up his delegates, and wants more of them! What’s that all about?"
While Sanders has voted for farm bills, his rural policy plans have also pushed for imposing supply controls on agriculture, citing the support in Canada for its supply management program for dairy. He called for establishing a national grain reserve and other supply management programs “to prevent shortages and surpluses to ensure farmers make a living wage and ensure consumers receive a high-quality, stable, and secure supply of agricultural goods.”
He also promised to break up agribusiness giants and impose a moratorium on future mergers.
In his announcement Thursday, Sanders repeated his concerns about climate change, a central theme of his 2016 and 2020 campaigns. “If we don't believe that we are entitled to live in a world that has a clean environment and is not ravaged by climate change, we will continue to see more drought, floods, rising sea levels and an increasingly uninhabitable planet,” he said.
He has called for paying farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During an Iowa event in December, he said he wanted to move USDA “away from supporting agribusiness and factory farming to supporting family-based agriculture and moving aggressively on climate change. What we will do is pay farmers to capture carbon,” he said at an Iowa organic agriculture event.
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