joe biden town hall 03272020
CNN  — 

Thirty-three years after launching his first presidential bid, Joe Biden will finally see his name at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Bernie Sanders’ departure from the 2020 race Wednesday opened a new chapter in Biden’s three-decade-long pursuit of the presidency, clearing the former vice president’s path to the Democratic nomination and a face-off against President Donald Trump in November.

“I think it’s a great milestone in his life. The fact that he won the nomination is a great accomplishment,” said former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden confidant. “But I think it comes knowing that there are very, very difficult substantive problems and challenges ahead.”

Among the general election tasks at hand for Biden and his team: selecting a running mate, setting up operations in battleground states and uniting the Democratic Party after a grueling primary process.

The early stages of the general election are now taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has altered life for millions of Americans and completely transformed campaigning. Sidelined from the campaign trail, Biden spends his days receiving briefings about the coronavirus from his public health and economic advisers strategizing with his campaign team over the phone, and broadcasting live from a studio in the basement of his Delaware home. His staff, which has celebrated their victories at campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, is scattered across the country.

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

“These are hard times and I certainly never imagined not being able to hug my teammates on the day we became the nominee,” tweeted Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “But for just a second here I want to express pure gratitude to my beloved colleagues who make this journey a joy and an adventure. Onward to November.”

Some advisers to Biden expressed a sense of relief after Sanders ended his bid, saying the campaign can now turn its full attention and resources to the general election.

“It’s a sense of we thought this could happen in June, not April. There’s a sense of ‘hey we did this,’” one Biden ally said. “This was along road. Think about where we were 40 days ago. That’s remarkable if you really think about the context of this.”

Biden’s comeback