Social media posts falsely claim the news media is spreading “prop[a]ganda” and “twisting words” about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his presidential campaign. They claim he is “still in the race.” While he remains on Democratic primary ballots, Sanders has said winning is “virtually impossible” and “the campaign ends.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his fight for the Democratic presidential nomination on April 8, tweeting, “Today I am suspending my campaign.” But some of his supporters aren’t ready to let go.
Many have taken to social media to suggest that “news sources are twisting words” by reporting that Sanders had “dropped out.” These claims appear to stem from confusion about Sanders’ message and what it means to suspend a campaign.
One such post says: “this is what we call ‘propganda.’ bernie sanders suspends his campaign AKA he wont spend money advertising himself anymore (bc he wants to help with the pandemic) but he’s still in the race. news sources JUMP on the fact that he’s stopped campaigning to tell everyone ‘WHOOPS he dropped out!'”
Like other similar posts, it gets some of the details right. But the larger message that Sanders has not dropped out, or the claim that he has dropped out is media propaganda, is wrong.
Here are the facts:
Sanders announced in a video message on April 8 that “the path toward victory is virtually impossible… I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful.”
He congratulated former Vice President Joe Biden, now the presumptive nominee, and committed to work with him.
In a message accompanying the video on Twitter, Sanders’ account said, “while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on.”
Sanders will stay on the ballot in the remaining primary elections so that he can continue to collect delegates in an effort to impact the party’s platform.
“While Vice President Biden will be the nominee,” he said in the video, “we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform.”
As of April 13, Sanders had 918 delegates to Biden’s 1,228.
So, Sanders has ended his campaign for the nomination, but still welcomes support for his platform.
By suspending his campaign, Sanders “is dropping out of the race for the nomination, but hoping to be active in other party functions,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who researches the presidential nomination system.
That’s not an unusual move, Kamarck said, noting that Sen. Ted Cruz made a similar decision to amass delegates in order to affect the Republican Party platform after he dropped out of the 2016 primary.
Despite that recent history, President Donald Trump told reporters during a press briefing the day Sanders made his announcement:
Donald Trump, April 8: Well, he didn’t really drop out. He didn’t really — what about his delegates? I mean, he — he said he’s going to keep his delegates and — which is sort of interesting. He’s going to keep his delegates, and he’d like to get more now.
Now, is he dropping out or not? That’s not dropping out. When you keep your delegates and then you want more delegates before you get to the convention, that’s a weird deal going on there. I don’t know what’s happening.
But Sanders was clear, saying in the video: “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win.”
Sanders then went on the following week to endorse Biden for president. In a live stream with Biden, Sanders said: “So, today, I’m asking all Americans — I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans — to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
Sanders, Bernie. “A special message from Bernie.” Live.berniesanders.com. 8 Apr 2020.
Kamarck, Elaine. Senior fellow, Brookings Institution. Telephone interview with FactCheck.org. 10 Apr 2020.
Mehta, Seema and Melanie Mason. “Cruz’s campaign is over, but his delegates fight on.” Los Angeles Times. 21 May 2016.
Trump, Donald. “Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing.” 8 Apr 2020.