WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders said that the Democratic presidential primary race is “neck and neck” between him and Joe Biden but that he’s the only candidate not “backed by the corporate world.”
The comments came a day after a resurgent Biden scored 10 victories in 14 Super Tuesday states, with Sanders winning in the other four.
At a news conference in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, on Wednesday, Sanders accused the former vice president of being backed by scores of billionaires.
He then offered some of his strongest contrasts yet between the two, running through a long list of attacks on Biden’s policy record on Social Security, trade agreements and many other top issues.
“The American people have got to understand that this is a conflict about ideas, about a record, about a vision of how we go forward,” Sanders said. Despite that criticism, he added that he didn’t want to engage in personal attacks, saying, “I like Joe.”
Sanders’ comments came shortly after Biden’s campaign chided Sanders for negative advertising focused on Biden’s past record.
Sanders said that he’s spoken to Elizabeth Warren by phone after her disappointing Super Tuesday showing and that she’s “not made any decisions” about leaving the Democratic presidential race.
Warren’s campaign said the Massachusetts senator was talking to her team Wednesday to assess the path forward and would make up her mind on her own time. She didn’t win any of the 14 states that voted Tuesday and finished third in her home state.
Sanders and Warren are the strongest progressive voices in the presidential race — and two of the four Democrats remaining in the race. But they haven’t spoken frequently since January, when Warren accused Sanders of suggesting during a private 2018 meeting that a woman couldn’t win the White House — an accusation the Vermont senator forcefully denied.
Sanders didn’t say whether Warren would endorse him should she opt to leave the race, nor if he sought her endorsement.
Sanders himself had an underwhelming Super Tuesday performance but ended up winning the night’s biggest prize, California, along with three other states. Joe Biden won 10 states, including the second-most delegate-rich state, Texas.
Biden notched his 10th Super Tuesday victory by winning Maine’s Democratic presidential primary.
The state, which was called Wednesday afternoon for Biden, has 24 delegates at stake.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said turnout was higher than he had anticipated.
It was the state’s first presidential primary in 20 years. Maine last used primaries in 1996 and 2000 and then switched to the caucus system for the next four presidential election cycles. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders handily won Maine’s Democratic caucuses in 2016.
Biden also won Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, while Sanders captured California, Colorado, Utah and Vermont.