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March 11, 2020

In Philly, Joe Biden glances toward general election following big Democratic primary wins

The former vice president issues address at National Constitution Center

Joe Biden called for unity among Democrats as he glanced toward November's general election during an address Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

The former vice president all but urged Bernie Sanders to exit the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, inviting the Vermont senator's supporters to coalesce around his own campaign. 

"We need you. We want you," Biden said after scoring victories in several states. "There’s a place in our campaign for each of you. And I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together. We’re going to bring this nation together."

Biden and Sanders are scheduled to debate on Sunday night ahead of primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio next Tuesday. Biden is heavily favored to expand his delegate total.

But Sanders said Wednesday that he intends to stay in the race.

"Today, I say to the Democratic establishment, in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country," Sanders said in a press conference. "You must speak to the issues of concern to them. You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older."

"On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend, Joe Biden," Sanders later said.

Biden's address came as he captured primary victories in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Sanders was victorious in North Dakota, and the primary in Washington remains too close to call. 

Biden, 77, now has 857 delegates compared to the 78-year-old Sanders' 709. A candidate needs to gain 1,991 delegates to win the nomination. 

Biden has captured 15 of the last 21 presidential primaries, becoming the favorite to win the nomination. Sanders won the popular vote in the Iowa caucus before winning in New Hampshire and Nevada. 

Biden’s surge also has been buoyed by the dropouts and endorsements of several candidates, including former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris. 

Biden has also received notable endorsements from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, of South Carolina, and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada.

Biden was originally scheduled to hold a rally in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday night. But Gov. Mike DeWine called for the cancellation of all major indoor events due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden cancelled his campaign event and instead issued his speech in Philadelphia. 

Biden's speech was not open to the public. Both Biden and his wife, Jill, stood in front of a small group of supporters. Reporters were permitted in the main hall of the museum.

It was far emptier than a typical presidential rally after a win.

The presidential primary in Pennsylvania is scheduled for April 28.

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