Whoopi Presses Bernie Sanders on Why He's Still in the 2020 Race — as He Focuses on Coronavirus Relief

Sean Neumann

Bernie Sanders said this week on The View that while he’s still pressing on with his long-shot 2020 presidential campaign, his focus had turned to the “unprecedented” coronavirus pandemic — and what he said will need to be an equally historic government relief effort.

The Vermont senator on Wednesday appeared remotely on the daily talk show to talk about his ongoing presidential bid and the coronavirus that has all but halted the 2020 race, along with most other aspects of daily American life, with millions of people staying indoors to slow new infections.

In the weeks before the coronavirus began to upend society around the country, Sanders had lost his front-runner status in a dramatic reversal of fortune in the primary race, with former Vice President Joe Biden defeating him handily in all but a few states after early losses in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Moderator Whoopi Goldberg asked Sanders: “Why are you still in the race?”

“Last I heard, people in a democracy have a right to vote and they have a right to vote for the agenda that they think can work for America, especially in this very, very difficult moment,” Sanders replied. “We are assessing our campaign, as a matter of fact, where we want to go forward. But people in a democracy do have a right to vote.”

Sanders lags Biden 1,215-909 in the delegate count that will ultimately determine the Democratic Party’s nominee. A candidate must receive at least 1,991 total delegates.

The nominee will be officially decided on Aug. 17, after the Democratic National Convention announced this week it was postponing its convention which was first scheduled for mid-July.

“This feels a little bit like it did when you didn’t come out when Hillary Clinton was clearly the person folks were going for,” Goldberg told Sanders, referring back to the 2016 race in which Sanders continued to campaign after it was clear Clinton would be the nominee.

Four years later and his performance has only weakened: Biden is beating Sanders in states where Sanders beat Clinton.

But the Vermont senator disagreed with Goldberg’s analysis, saying that he “worked as hard as I could for Hillary Clinton” in the 2016 election.

“You worked for Hillary, but it took you a very, very long time to hop in,” Goldberg said.

Sanders quickly replied: “Well, I don’t accept that characterization.”

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

Biden won 10 states on “Super Tuesday” on March 3 and overtook Sanders, the then-leading candidate, in both the total delegate count and in national polling numbers and proclaimed his campaign was very much “alive” as it surged back.

Amid the coronavirus, 15 states have delayed their primary votes, according to the New York Times.

Biden, 77, and Sanders, 78, have like many others been largely remaining in their homes.

“I’m sitting in my house right now, not holding a rally in Wisconsin, because of the nature of campaigns,” Sanders said, pointing out he and Biden have been left to communicate with voters via remote video messaging as health officials urge Americans to avoid going outside and gathering in public unless absolutely necessary.

Sanders told Goldberg he was now focused on helping Congress pass an additional coronavirus relief package to follow up its historic $2 trillion aid package passed late last month.

But the View moderator tried to keep the conversation on the future of his presidential campaign, while Sanders laid out his ongoing efforts in Congress.

“So, your plan is to stay in, yes?” Goldberg asked again.

“Well, for the fourth time,” Sanders said, “We are assessing.”

Later, guest host Sara Haines said she wanted to ask Sanders about his primary prospects as well.

“If it’s okay with you, my focus right now and what I think the focus of America has gotta be is how we deal with the incredible, unprecedented crisis we are now facing,” he said.

He continued: “I would hope that everybody understands that we have got to to look to the future in a very different way than we have looked before and that Congress is going to have to act in a way that we have never seen.”