Joe Biden said on Friday he had secured the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination and face Donald Trump in November's US presidential election amid a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest.
"Folks, tonight we secured the 1,991 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination," the former vice president said on Twitter. "I'm going to spend every day fighting to earn your vote so that, together, we can win the battle for the soul of this nation."More: Joe Biden puts the brakes on Trump jobs-report victory lap Another 1.87 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week How long will it take the US economy to recover from coronavirus?
A candidate needs at least 1,991 delegates to secure the nomination, with Biden crossing the threshold late on Friday after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries earlier in the week.
Biden now has 1,995 delegates, with contests still to come in eight states and three US territories.
"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," Biden said on Friday in a statement.
Biden had been the presumptive Democratic challenger since Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race in April and endorsed his onetime rival's run at the White House.
At one point, the field had more than 20 candidates, with contenders dropping out as their chances faded.
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 Super Tuesday votes on March 3, when the highest number of delegates were up for grabs and Biden won key contests.
It then became a two-horse race with Sanders, who was seen as a progressive candidate challenging incumbent Democrats.
While Sanders was a frontrunner after early races, Biden carried his Super Tuesday momentum into subsequent contests and increased his lead.
Sanders quit the race upon seeing no path to the nomination as the novel coronavirus outbreak made campaigning and outreach difficult.
Biden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama's vice president.
This is 77-year-old Biden's third bid for the presidency and his success in capturing the Democratic nomination was driven by strong support from Black voters.