March 17, 2020 at 4:46 AM EDT – Updated March 18 at 4:21 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has swept to easy victories in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasingly pulling away with the Democratic presidential primary race and building pressure on Bernie Sanders to abandon his campaign.
The former vice president’s third big night in as many weeks came amid tremendous uncertainty confronting the Democratic contest as it collides with efforts to slow the spread of the virus that have shut down large swaths of American life.
Polls were shuttered in Ohio, and although balloting went ahead in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, election workers and voters reported problems.
Biden’s quest for his party’s nomination now seems well within reach. His trio of wins doubled his delegate haul over Sanders, giving the former vice president a nearly insurmountable lead.
Biden took a measured approach Tuesday as he celebrated primary wins in Florida and Illinois. Votes were still being cast and counted in Arizona at the time.
The former vice president said the wins made it a “good night.” But he spent most of a brief address confronting the coronavirus and the national quasi-quarantine that had him speaking online rather than at a raucous rally with supporters.
“It’s moments like these we realize we need to put politics aside and work together as Americans,” Biden said. “The coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican. … We’re all in this together.”
Biden nodded to Sanders and his supporters, saying they “have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country.” To the youngest voters, he added: “I hear you. I know what’s at stake.”
Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Louisiana have postponed their scheduled primaries.
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