WASHINGTON • Former US vice-president Joe Biden has secured enough delegates to formally clinch the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, setting the stage for a challenge to President Donald Trump in the November election.
A candidate needs at least 1,991 delegates to secure the nomination.
Mr Biden crossed the threshold after results came late on Friday from seven states and the District of Columbia which held presidential primaries earlier in the week.
According to the Associated Press tally, Mr Biden collected 1,993 delegates.
The achievement was a formality after Mr Biden became the presumptive nominee when his main rival, Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, quit the race in April.
“It was an honour to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic Party has ever fielded – and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party,” Mr Biden said on Friday.
“I am going to spend every day between now and Nov 3 fighting to earn the votes of Americans all across this great country so that, together, we can win the battle for the soul of this nation, and make sure that as we rebuild our economy, everyone comes along.”
At one point, the field had over 20 candidates, but contenders dropped out as their chances faded.
Mr Biden had a slow start and recorded his first win in South Carolina at the end of February.
After that, some other candidates seen as centrist or moderate dropped out before the Super Tuesday votes on March 3, when the highest number of delegates was up for grabs, and Mr Biden won key contests. It then became a two-horse race with Mr Sanders, who was seen as a progressive candidate challenging incumbent Democrats.
While Mr Sanders was a front runner after early races, Mr Biden carried his Super Tuesday momentum into subsequent contests and increased his lead.
Mr Sanders quit the race upon seeing no path to the nomination as the coronavirus outbreak made physical campaigning and outreach difficult.
A US senator and then vice-president under president Barack Obama, Mr Biden has promised to choose a woman as his running mate, with several black candidates likely to be in the running.
Senator Kamala Harris, a 55-year-old former attorney-general of California, is considered one of the front runners to be Mr Biden’s vice-presidential pick.
Ms Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian ancestry, was earlier considered a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out last December after failing to break out of the crowded field.
The general election campaign that begins now is likely to be especially vitriolic and hard-fought.
Mr Trump and Mr Biden have already exchanged blows, with Mr Trump deriding Mr Biden as “sleepy Joe” and levelling accusations about his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Mr Biden has repeatedly said Mr Trump has sullied the office of president by overseeing a corrupt administration and fuelling division among Americans.
In an average of opinion polls, RealClearPolitics gives Mr Biden a 7.1-point lead over Mr Trump in the election.
Mr Biden, who failed in his previous two presidential primary bids in 1987 and 2008, will be formally nominated at the Democratic National Convention in August.
The tradition-steeped convention is likely to be scaled down this year, with many more virtual events instead, given social distancing rules amid the pandemic.
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE