Democratic presidential hopeful former US vice president Joe Biden makes a point during a debate in Washington. File photo
Joe Biden swept to victory in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday, increasingly pulling away with a Democratic presidential primary upended by the coronavirus and building pressure on Bernie Sanders to abandon his campaign.
The former vice president's third big night in as many weeks came amid tremendous uncertainty as the Democratic contest collides with efforts to slow the spread of the virus that has shut down large swaths of American life. Polls were shuttered in Ohio, and although balloting went ahead as scheduled in the three other states, election workers and voters reported problems.
Still, Biden's quest for his party's nomination now seems well within reach. His trio of wins doubled his delegate haul over Sanders, giving the former vice president a nearly insurmountable lead. Top Democratic leaders and donors have also increasingly lined up behind Biden as the best option to square off against President Donald Trump in November.
Using a livestream to address supporters from his home state of Delaware, Biden seemed ready to move past the primary. He paid tribute to the Vermont senator for advancing key issues like affordable health care and combating climate change.
"Sen. Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues. Together they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country," Biden said. "So let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Sen. Sanders, I hear you. I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do.”
With the exception of North Dakota and the Northern Mariana Islands, Sanders hasn't scored a victory since Super Tuesday on March 3. He made no immediate move on Tuesday to contact Biden, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the candidates. During remarks early in the night, Sanders said little about the future of the race and instead focused on the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump, meanwhile, formally clinched the Republican presidential nomination after facing minimal opposition.
But much of the action was on the Democratic side, where higher vote totals in some key states suggested enthusiasm that even the coronavirus couldn't contain. Turnout in Florida’s Democratic primary surpassed the 1.7 million who cast ballots four years ago.
In what would be the day's biggest upset, Biden was projected by Edison Research to have won Texas, the biggest prize after California. Sanders invested heavily in Texas and was counting on its sizeable Latino population to propel him to victory.
Today, they appear online as lonely candidates hunkered down in their homes, forced off the trail and into campaign reinvention mode as the intensifying coronavirus pandemic upends the Democratic presidential primaries along with every other aspect of American life.
Barring unforeseen disaster, Joe Biden will represent the Democratic Party against President Donald Trump this fall, the former vice president's place on the general election ballot cemented by Bernie Sanders' decision to end his campaign.
New Zealand reported two new coronavirus cases on Saturday -- one in managed isolation and the other detected during contact tracing, taking the overall tally to 1,475, according to the Ministry of Health.
Togolese Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou and his government tendered their resignation on Friday, the presidency said in a statement, congratulating the Cabinet for its work in office.
South Korea said on Saturday it will request North Korea to further investigate the killing of a South Korean government official who was shot by North Korean troops after being found adrift near the rivals’ disputed sea boundary while apparently trying to defect.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Americans might not know the winner of the November presidential election for months due to disputes over mail ballots, building on his criticism of a method that could be used by half of US voters this year.