Sanders, Clinton Campaigns Promote Optimistic Paths To Nomination
Senator Bernie Sanders won definitive victories in Democratic presidential caucuses Saturday in Washington state, Hawaii and Alaska. The candidate’s chief strategists say it is still possible to make up a significant gap in delegates. But the chief strategist for frontrunner Hillary Clinton discounted those claims. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports New York’s primary April 19th now looms large.
Senator Sanders attracted more than 17,000 people to a rally in Seattle on Sunday and went on to win the Washington caucus 72 to 27 percent. He also won 82 percent of votes in Alaska and 69.8 percent in Hawaii’s caucus.
But the Vermont Senator still trails frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. During a conference call Monday, Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine claimed that Clinton’s frontrunner status is weak and she has lost every state where Sanders has directly competed. “She has gained advantage in a bunch of places where we didn’t effectively compete because we pursued a different tactical path towards the nomination. But as we go through the rest of these states, all the way to California and the District of Columbia, we intend to compete and compete fully. And we believe we will have demonstrated that Bernie Sanders will be the strongest nominee of this party.”
The pollster for the Sanders campaign offered data indicating he beats any Republican in the general election by greater margins than Clinton does. But Sanders must first win the nomination. Devine calculates that it is achievable despite being significantly behind Clinton in delegates. “We’re obviously going to have to win most of the states coming up. I think it’s clear now that neither candidate, Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders, is going to win a majority of the delegates to the Democratic convention with just pledged delegates. But I think later in the process, particularly if we keep winning, we will want to talk to every single superdelegate whether or not they’ve made a public commitment and seek their support.”
Cinton's campaign believes she can all but sew it up by the end of next month.
Hillary For America Chief Strategist Joel Benenson argues that following the April 26 contests in five northeastern states, Clinton will have won an insurmountable number of delegates, making it mathematically impossible for Sanders to win. “There’s no question when you look at the math that Senator Sanders still needs to win 57 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to get a majority of pledged delegates. That doesn’t count the superdelegate lead. That’s a pretty high threshold. And even if he replicated his ten point win in Oklahoma in future states it is not enough to make up the pledged delegate deficit that he has right now.”
Sanders has raised more than $140 million with more than $4 million coming in since his weekend victories. The money should help the campaign as it gears up for advertising in upcoming primary states including New York. Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver notes the campaign is making a big commitment to the Empire State. “We view it as an important state in this process. Bernie’s a native son of Brooklyn, in many ways the sort-of voice of New York. You know that’s going to be an important contest and we hope that the Secretary and her campaign will relent and allow the people of New York to experience a debate between herself and Senator Sanders before the April 19th New York primary. It has been disappointing that there seems to be some hedging on the part of the Clinton campaign, so we’re going to continue to press on that.”
The Clinton campaign’s Benenson counters that any debate in New York, where Clinton served as Senator, is undetermined. “Senator Sanders doesn’t set when we debate. We’ve got an election to contest before we get to New York. We think that this party is strong when we have a good, strong, healthy debate. But the tone of the campaign has become increasingly negative and personal in some places. So we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We’ve got campaigns before we hit New York and we’re going to contest those first and then any other discussions can take place later.”
An Associated Press analysis shows there are only 216 uncommitted superdelegates out of 714.