Bernie Sanders Vows To Stay In The Race, Prepares For Arizona Debate Amid Calls For Him To Drop Out

Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally.
CENGIZ YAR / Getty Images

Bernie Sanders isn’t ready to give up just yet.

After a string of major losses in Tuesday’s presidential primaries that left the Vermont senator far behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination, Sanders vowed to stay in contention, adding that he is preparing for this weekend’s one-on-on debate with Biden in Arizona. The debate will be the first with just the two frontrunners on stage and will take a sit-down format.

As Axios reported, Sanders resisted growing calls for him to drop out of the race as his path to the nomination looks nearly impossible. During this week, he shifted away from southern states that looked favorable to Biden to instead focus on Michigan, where he pulled off a major upset of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary. But despite showing confidence that his campaign would take Michigan, Sanders was instead soundly defeated on Tuesday while suffering other big losses in Missouri and Mississippi.

With Sanders now needing an almost-impossible turnaround given that Biden still has many favorable states to come, many around the party are calling for him to drop out and end the primary so the former vice president can begin shifting his focus toward Donald Trump.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement helped spark Biden to a big win in South Carolina that kicked off his comeback against Sanders, said on Tuesday night that it is time for the party to bring the primary to an end.

“I think when the night is over, Joe Biden will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and, quite frankly, if the night ends the way it has begun, I think it is time for us to shut this primary down, it is time for us to cancel the rest of these debates — because you don’t do anything but get yourself in trouble if you continue in this contest when it’s obvious that the numbers will not shake out for you,” Clyburn said, via The Hill.

Others have said that if Sanders does choose to remain in the race, he should focus on pushing his progressive platform and avoid direct attacks on Biden, which could only hurt him against Trump. But there are signs that the Vermont senator will still plan an aggressive push, saying he wants to press the Democratic front-runner on his plans to address medical debt and those dealing with high health care costs.