Bernie Sanders suspended all of his Facebook campaign ads Wednesday on the heels of another stinging primary setback, sparking rumors that he’s about to drop out of the race.
The Facebook ad freeze came after Joe Biden won Tuesday’s primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, virtually leaving Sanders without a viable path to the Democratic nomination.
The Facebook development prompted a social media frenzy, and several reporters tweeted Sanders had decided to suspend his campaign.
But Sanders campaign communications director Mike Casca shot down the rumors as “absolutely false” in a tweet.
Sanders planned to hold meetings Wednesday to “reassess” his chances, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.
“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away,” Shakir said, suggesting the left-wing Vermont senator isn’t in a rush to make a final decision. “Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign.”
Meantime, Sanders is dedicating most of his energy to the worsening coronavirus pandemic, according to Shakir.
“He is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable,” Shakir said.
Biden has taken a commanding lead in the Democratic presidential race since sweeping 10 primaries on Super Tuesday.
As the dismal results rolled in Tuesday, Sanders held a live-streamed policy speech about the coronavirus from his Capitol Hill office. He did not acknowledge his defeats or even mention the ongoing primary contest.
Sanders’ wavering comes as the coronavirus crisis has forced the delay of primaries in several states, making it even less likely for Sanders to mount a comeback.
Ohio was supposed to hold a primary Tuesday, but cancelled it in the last minute. Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana and Kentucky have already postponed their primaries amid growing fears over the virus, which has infected more than 7,000 people in the U.S. and killed more than 100.
Some Sanders supporters want him to continue his fight on to the Democratic National Convention to promote his progressive agenda.
But other Democrats view Biden as the best bet to beat Trump. Many analysts say Sanders’ reluctance to back Hillary Clinton contributed to Trump’s ability to pull off a narrow upset victory in the Electoral College in 2016.
Trump tweeted that the Democratic establishment has succeeding in forcing Sanders out of the race “ahead of schedule. … He will be dropping out soon!”
The president has long sought to boost Sanders in hopes of exploiting divisions among Democrats.