March 18, 2020 / 10:45 PM / 11 days ago

Factbox: Biden leads two remaining rivals in Democratic 2020 race; Trump's last challenger drops out

(Reuters) - Bernie Sanders, the last major rival to front-runner Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential race, will reassess over the coming days whether to stay in the contest, his campaign manager said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the 11th Democratic candidates debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, held in CNN's Washington studios without an audience because of the global coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii, is also still in the contest despite barely registering in recent nominating primaries, leaving three candidates in a field that once had more than 20 contenders.

On the Republican side, President Donald Trump’s last challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, dropped out on Wednesday, allowing Trump to focus solely on the Nov. 3 general election against the Democratic nominee.

The campaign for the White House will be forced into a hiatus for at least a few weeks by the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced candidates off the campaign trail and led some states to cancel their primaries.

These are the remaining contenders:

JOE BIDEN

Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama and a longtime senator from Delaware before that, built his candidacy on the argument that his more than 40 years in elected office made him best suited to take over from Trump on Day One.

His campaign, which had been on life support just weeks earlier after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, was resurrected by a resounding win in South Carolina.

Biden then emerged as a consensus champion for the moderate wing of the Democratic Party on Super Tuesday, rolling to victories in 10 of 14 states across the South, Midwest and New England, including surprise wins in Texas and Massachusetts.

He has captured eight of the nine primaries since then, moving closer to the nomination.

At 77, questions persist about his age and moderate brand of politics, which progressives contend is out of step with the leftward shift of the party.

BERNIE SANDERS

The U.S. senator from Vermont, who has an impassioned following, is making a second White House bid and had emerged as the front-runner before Biden’s Super Tuesday surge.

As in his first presidential run in 2016, Sanders, 78, has campaigned as an unapologetic, self-described democratic socialist who seeks a political revolution.

His signature issue is government-run universal healthcare, and he has again proven to be a fundraising powerhouse, leading the field in terms of total campaign contributions.

Sanders won New Hampshire and Nevada, and finished a close second in Iowa to former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, but he trailed Biden in South Carolina and suffered a string of resounding losses beginning on Super Tuesday.

TULSI GABBARD

The Samoan-American congresswoman from Hawaii is the first Hindu to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and has centered her campaign on her anti-war stance.

Gabbard, a 38-year-old Iraq War veteran, has vowed to continue to campaign despite repeatedly failing to break 1% support in primaries.

DONALD TRUMP

Trump is the only remaining candidate seeking the Republican nomination. There was criticism among his opponents that party leadership had worked to make it impossible for a challenger.

But Trump remains overwhelmingly popular among Republicans, and he trounced his challengers in those states that did hold primaries. Trump won every caucus in Iowa, and captured 86% of the Republican vote in New Hampshire.

But he has faced criticism from Democrats and some experts for being slow and ineffective in his response to the coronavirus crisis and initially playing down the threat.

He had made a strong economy a pillar of his campaign argument, but worries about the virus sent financial markets reeling and threatened the jobs of millions of Americans forced to stay home as a safety measure.

Since his surprise win in the 2016 presidential election, Trump, 73, has become a ubiquitous political force, both through frequent controversies and his prolific Twitter account.

Trump was impeached in December by the Democratic-led House of Representatives for his request that Ukraine carry out investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, the Democratic candidate’s son. But the Senate, controlled by his fellow Republicans, acquitted him on Feb. 5.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Michael Martina; Editing by John Whitesides and Peter Cooney

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