Joe Biden has won Michigan’s Democratic primary, seizing a key battleground state that helped propel Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy four years ago.
The former vice president’s victory in Michigan, as well as Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, has dealt a serious blow to Mr Sanders, who is urgently seeking to jump-start his flagging campaign.
He could still get a boost in North Dakota or Washington state – but fewer delegates are at stake than in Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan, where Mr Biden’s decisive performance again showed his strength with working-class voters and African Americans.
Washington’s primary was too early to call with all votes there cast by mail or by dropping them off in ballot boxes.
The six-state contest marks the first time voters were able to give an indication as to which candidate they preferred since it effectively narrowed to a two-person race between Mr Biden and Mr Sanders.
Mr Sanders’ disappointing performance in a state that he won in the 2016 Democratic primary will increase pressure on the democratic socialist and senator from Vermont to exit the race and help Democrats prepare for an election
campaign against Donald Trump.
Speaking in Philadelphia, Mr Biden thanked his opponent and his supporters for their passion and made an appeal for party unity.
More from Bernie Sanders
Joe Biden tells voter ‘you’re full of s***’ as he is confronted about guns on campaign stop
Public Enemy part ways with Flavor Flav after Bernie Sanders rally row
America’s first openly gay presidential candidate quits race
Joe Biden wins South Carolina Democratic presidential primary – exit polls
Bernie Sanders wins in Nevada but where does that leave his rivals?
Bernie Sanders cements frontrunner status with Nevada caucuses win
He said many had “declared that this candidacy was dead” only days ago but said it was not “very much alive”.
Mr Biden added: “We need you, we want you, and there’s a place in our campaign for each of you. I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion.
“We share a common goal and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”
The comments come after both candidates cancelled rallies in Ohio that were due to take place on Tuesday night over fears of the coronavirus spreading further.
Mr Sanders’ campaign said all future events would be decided on a case-by-case basis given the concerns over the outbreak. And Mr Biden has since cancelled a planned stop in Florida.