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WASHINGTON - Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday formally endorsed his rival Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, hours before Biden was declared the winner of the controversial Wisconsin primary.
"We've got to make Trump a one-term president, and we need you in the White House," Sanders told Biden in a joint virtual appearance on a Biden webcast. "I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe."
"I want to thank you for that," Biden responded. "It's a big deal. Your endorsement means a great deal, a great deal to me."
From a one-time field of about two dozen, Sanders and Biden were the last remaining Democratic presidential contenders.
Sanders dropped out of the race last week when it became clear he could not surpass Biden in the delegate count.
Sanders had pushed for several significant U.S. policy changes that Biden resisted, including a government takeover of medical health insurance -Medicare for All, Sanders called it - and free tuition for college students at public universities.
Biden has the wide support of rank-and-file Democrats as the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in November, yet he has taken note of the appeal of Sanders' progressive polices among young voters.
Biden has adopted modified stances on the Sanders health insurance and tuition positions, an effort to woo Sanders supporters to his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Biden won the Wisconsin Democratic, which was held last week despite Gov. Tony Evers' insistence that the election be postponed or that all voters get absentee ballots because of the coronavirus outbreak. The state's Republican-led legislature and Supreme Court overruled him.
The day before last Tuesday's voting, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots had to be postmarked by midnight on election day. But many residents had not received their ballots in the mail, meaning they had to either stand in lines during a coronavirus outbreak or give up being able to vote.
Fourteen Milwaukee voters filed a lawsuit Monday, arguing that the court order prevented them from being able to cast a ballot.
Gov. Evers called the election "a mess that could have been avoided."
Democrats say the reason Republicans insisted the election take place as scheduled despite the potential coronavirus danger is because a Trump-endorsed Republican candidate is running for a seat on the state Supreme Court.
Higher voter turnouts - in person or by mail - generally favor Democrats over Republicans.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has called Wisconsin Republican insistence that the voting take place as scheduled "voter suppression on steroids, putting people's lives in danger."