Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is reportedly ending his Facebook ad campaigns after 2020 rival former Vice President Joe Biden solidified his delegate lead on Tuesday, sweeping all three primaries as the coronavirus pandemic scrambled the nominating process for the foreseeable future.
Hours after Biden cruised through Arizona, Florida and Illinois, Sanders paused his ads, according to Axios.
A suspension in ad spending on Facebook has generally been a good indicator that candidates are preparing to exit the 2020 race. Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg both made their Facebook ads inactive hours before they suspended their campaigns, Axios reported.
According to a note from Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir earlier in the day, the Vermont senator and his wife, Jane Sanders, are headed back to Vermont to "begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign."
"The next primary contest is at least three weeks ago," Shakir said in a statement. "Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign. In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable."
Just a little over a month ago, Sanders was viewed as a possible unstoppable frontrunner, but will likely face escalating pressure to exit the primary and unify the party after his path to the nomination considerably narrowed on Tuesday.
“There's not going to be an election for another three weeks," Sanders told reporters at Capitol Hill on Wednesday. "We are talking to our supporters. Anybody who suggests at this point we're ending our campaign is not telling the truth.”
According to The Associated Press' delegate tracker, Biden currently has 1,147 delegates, while Sanders trails with just 861, making it all but impossible for him to catch up. Candidates need to secure 1,991 delegates to clinch the nomination at their party's convention in Milwaukee.
“No, the Senator has not suspended his campaign," Anna Bahr, Sanders' deputy press secretary said in a statement.
This story incorrectly said Bernie Sanders is suspending his campaign. It has been updated to say he is suspending Facebook campaign ads.