WASHINGTON – Joe Biden officially clinched the 1,991 pledged delegates he needs to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.
Former Vice President Biden swept all seven states holding presidential primaries Tuesday – Maryland, Indiana, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota and Pennsylvania – plus the District of Columbia. He inched closer to the delegate number all week as votes were tallied.
In a statement released soon after the needed number was reached, Biden said the country needs leadership.
"This is a difficult time in America’s history. And Donald Trump’s angry, divisive politics is no answer. The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us," the statement reads.
In early April, Biden became the presumptive nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders, his last Democratic opponent in the race, suspended his presidential campaign. Biden, 77, will become the nominee after beating out one of the largest and most diverse group of Democratic candidates. There were at least two dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
In the first early voting states, Biden suffered disappointing losses – which led to doubts from pundits that the former vice president could garner enough support to be the nominee. Biden's campaign was reenergized after a dominating win in South Carolina and continued to rack up big primary wins.
The Democratic National Committee will hold its convention in mid-August, when Biden will officially be nominated to represent the party in the general election.
Over the past several months, President Donald Trump and Biden have criticized each other over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, their relationships with China and, most recently, the protests after the death of George Floyd.
According to polling, Biden has a slight lead over Trump in a head-to-head matchup for the general election.
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Biden's next challenge will be to pick a running mate who can help energize young liberals and voters of color, particularly blacks. Both are key voting blocs for the Democratic Party to engage in the general election.
Some Democrats suggested Biden needs to pick a black woman or Latina for his vice presidential choice in an effort to highlight the party's diversity and reward the steadfast support of voters of color that Democrats need to win.
Biden will need to engage young voters, many of whom supported Sanders. Over the past several weeks, Biden has worked with Sanders on policy working groups that include allies of both men to create initiatives for the Biden campaign surrounding climate change, criminal justice, the economy, education, health care and immigration.
Liberal leaders have said it's a step in the right direction, but they've been cautious about how their organizations are going to support Biden in the general election.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden clinches Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 election