Former Vice President Joe Biden is the likely Democratic nominee now that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign. President Trump never faced serious competition for the GOP nomination. Here’s a look at the candidates.
Joe Biden, former vice president
Joe Biden was the front-runner for much of the race, drawing attacks from several of his rivals and President Trump. He ran into trouble in early-voting states, but an overwhelming victory in South Carolina brought new life and new supporters to his campaign. He won 10 of 14 states that voted on Super Tuesday, and continued widening his delegate lead in subsequent contests.
Biden, a moderate, has decades of political experience — 36 years in the Senate and eight as President Obama’s vice president — which gave his rivals a long record to criticize. He apologized for remarks about working with segregationist senators and was forced to acknowledge President Obama’s legacy of deportations at the southern border.
House Democrats voted to impeach Trump for attempting to enlist the help of Ukrainian government officials to investigate Biden and his son on unsubstantiated allegations of corruption. Four years ago, before Biden decided not to run, he considered former rival Elizabeth Warren as a vice presidential choice, and during the Obama administration, he worked with former rival Michael R. Bloomberg in a bid to pass gun control measures through Congress. He recently vowed to choose a woman as his running mate and has said he would nominate a black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Biden dominated the Democratic endorsement primary, including gaining the support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as former rivals Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke. And he led in the support from African American voters. He stopped holding in-person campaign events in March because of the coronavirus outbreak. Biden, who was involved in the Obama administration’s response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, has offered suggestions and criticisms of Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donald Trump, president
President Trump had ramped up his reelection campaign on the heels of his impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and his subsequent acquittal in the Senate. He was accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son as Trump withheld a White House meeting and military aid to the U.S. ally, and of obstructing Congress’ investigation by refusing to release subpoenaed documents or allow current and former aides to testify.
Trump’s reelection strategy had focused on “jobs, jobs jobs,” but unemployment has soared during the global pandemic.
His political fate will likely be determined by how voters view his competence in battling the coronavirus outbreak and reviving a devastated economy. Polls show he faces widespread concern that he mismanaged the government’s early response.
For weeks, he downplayed the public health risks, accusing Democrats of exaggerating them in order to harm him, calling that “their new hoax.” He has continued to send mixed messages, saying in late March that he hoped to see church pews packed on Easter, then reversing course and extending the national social distancing guidelines until April 30.
He has since told Americans to prepare for a “minimum” of 100,000 deaths.
Trump had recently extended his travel ban on visitors and immigrants from several majority Muslim countries. He had slashed the number of refugees the U.S. takes in and sharply reduced the number of people seeking to enter the U.S. by claiming asylum, in part by forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases wound through the legal system.
Unlike other presidents, Trump filed reelection campaign papers on the day he was inaugurated and held dozens of raucous campaign rallies, railing against critics, the Russia investigation and his impeachment. The pandemic has ended his in-person rallies but he has held forth with near-daily coronavirus briefings that frequently veer into similar tones and lengths.
Trump used his State of the Union address in February, which was riddled with misleading claims, as a campaign speech, vilifying Democrats and touting a “great American comeback.” He has exacted payback against officials for their roles in his impeachment and other investigations.
His administration has been notable for the stream of federal officials who have quit or been fired, but he has celebrated successes, including a string of appointments of conservative federal judges and two Supreme Court justices.
Who has dropped out?
In the Democratic race, Sanders dropped out April 8. The Vermont senator and avowed democratic socialist energized large groups of new voters but fell short of amassing a coalition large enough to capture the nomination. Sanders had rebounded off his 2016 loss to Hillary Clinton to emerge for a few weeks as the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic primary, but after the first few contests, voters consolidated behind Biden.
Others who dropped out of the race include: U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Eric Swalwell of the Bay Area; former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang; former Mayors Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
In the Republican race, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh ended his bid in February, and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld suspended his campaign in March.