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Sanders predicts race will be 'neck and neck' once California is counted

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSirota: Biden has not fulfilled campaign promise of combating union-busting tactics Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (I-Vt.) predicted he and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE would be "neck and neck" in the presidential race after the delegates from Tuesday night's California primary are counted.

“I haven’t seen the latest delegate count, but my guess is that after California is thrown into the hopper, it’s going to be pretty close. We may be up by a few, Biden may be up by a few, but I think we go forward basically neck and neck,” Sanders said at a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Burlington, Vt.

Sanders’s remarks came after a decisive victory in California’s primary, which rewards 415 pledged delegates, the most of any state. However, the actual delegate breakdown from the gargantuan primary is not expected to be determined for days or even weeks — the Golden State is notorious to taking time to tally its votes, in part because of the sheer size of its contest.

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While Sanders posted big numbers in California, Biden ran up the score across the South and secured victories in states he was not anticipated to win, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas. The former vice president won by big margins in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia, while Sanders also took Colorado, Utah and Vermont.

The results from Super Tuesday helped recast the Democratic primary as a two-candidate race between Biden and Sanders. Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ The truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan MORE suspended his presidential bid Wednesday and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPoll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Democrats reintroduce bill to block US from using nuclear weapons first MORE (D-Mass.) huddled with advisers to reconsider her chances at the nomination after poor performances for both candidates. 

Sanders said he looked forward to continuing to debate issues with Biden, at one point proposing an hourlong debate dedicated solely to health care. 

“As we come into the last several months of this campaign, what I hope very much is that what we can focus on is an issue-oriented campaign which deals with the concerns of the American people,” Sanders said.

“Joe Biden is somebody I have known for many years. I like Joe. I think he’s a very decent human being. Joe and I have a very different voting record. Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country. And Joe and I are running very different campaigns,” he added. “My hope is that in the coming months we will be able to debate and discuss the very significant differences that we have.” 

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Sanders slammed the “venom” directed at his campaign and dismissed the last primary debate, which was characterized by negative attacks, as a “food fight,” but he also tore into Biden over his voting record in the Senate, including his past support for the Iraq War and trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

“So the American people have got to understand that this is a conflict about ideas, about a record, about a vision for where we go forward,” Sanders said. “And I like Joe, Joe is a decent guy, and I do not want this campaign to degenerate into a Trump-type effort where we’re attacking each other, where it’s personal attacks. That is the last thing this country wants.

“Joe has his ideas, his record, his vision for the future. I have mine,” he added.