Despite primary setbacks, Bernie Sanders primed for Phoenix debate

Mar 11, 2020, 10:35 AM | Updated: 11:12 am
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has stumbled recently, said Wednesday he was looking forward to an upcoming Phoenix debate with Joe Biden.

The firebrand Vermont lawmaker did not publicly address his supporters Tuesday night after suffering a devastating primary defeat in Michigan and decisive losses in Missouri and Mississippi to former Vice President Joe Biden.

But at a press conference in his home state, he said, “On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend Joe Biden.”

During his press conference, he acknowledged “we are losing the debate over electability” to a candidate many Democrats think will have a better chance of defeating President Donald Trump in the fall.

He said he wanted to force Biden to confront issues of economic inequality and other issues important to Sanders’ supporters and planned to do that at Sunday’s debate at Arizona Federal Theatre.

“The American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to accomplish that goal,” he said.

Sanders became a front-runner after the earliest states voted in the Democratic primaries, but the party has since coalesced around Biden as the top choice to take on Trump.

The debate, which is set for 5 p.m., has been scaled back by organizers. No audience will be allowed at the request of each campaign amid the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

The 78-year-old Sanders drew more than 7,000 supporters to a rally in Phoenix last week, and his campaign was set to open five field offices in Arizona on Wednesday, in downtown Phoenix, west Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson and Flagstaff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Despite primary setbacks, Bernie Sanders primed for Phoenix debate