WASHINGTON (CNN) — Joe Biden said Wednesday that Democrats have “had enough” debates, suggesting he is unwilling to have another one-on-one showdown with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“My focus is just dealing with this crisis right now. I haven’t thought about any more debates. I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this,” Biden said when asked by CNN whether he would debate Sanders again.
The former vice president’s comment, during a press conference with reporters video-streamed from Biden’s home in Delaware, comes the day after a Sanders aide said the senator would participate in an April debate.
“If there is a debate in April, he plans to be there,” Sanders communications director Mike Casca said Tuesday.
Sanders said in an interview on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Wednesday that he disagrees with Biden.
“I think we need a good debate as to where we go, not only just now but in the future,” Sanders told Cooper. “And to my mind, if there’s anything that this unexpected moment in American history should teach us, we’ve got to rethink the basic structures of American society, and that is guaranteed health care to all as a human right, creating an economy that provides for all people not just the wealthy.”
His comment was an indication that — despite Biden’s overwhelming delegate lead, and states pushing back their primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic — Sanders intends to remain in the Democratic nominating contest.
The Democratic National Committee’s initial debate schedule had included an April meeting. A DNC aide said Wednesday that the party had no updates about an April debate — but added that there is no venue, media partner or date set for the hypothetical contest.
Biden’s comments reflect a desire among many Democrats for the party to move past its primary and focus on President Donald Trump.
It takes 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. CNN’s delegate estimate shows Biden with 1,155 pledged delegates so far — well ahead of Sanders’ 840. Biden also has clear momentum, sweeping the latest round of primaries on March 17 with dominant wins in Arizona, Florida and Illinois.
But the pandemic has led some states to push their primaries into June, opening up the possibility that it could take more than two months for a candidate to cross the threshold needed to clinch the nomination.
Biden has said his staff and Sanders’ staff are in contact, but that the two candidates haven’t spoken personally.