BURLINGTON, Vt. — Bernie Sanders may be facing tough delegate math against his rival Hillary Clinton, but the progressive candidate told a crowd of his strongest supporters that he would fight for the nomination in every state.
“At the end of tonight, 15 states will have voted. Thirty-five states remain,” Sanders told a Vermont crowd of thousands. “Let me assure you that we are going to take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace to every one of those states.”
The Vermont senator assured his supporters that he will still pick up delegates in states he loses on Super Tuesday.
“This is not a general election, it’s not winner-take-all. If you get 52 percent or 48 percent, you end up with roughly the same amount of delegates,” he said.
The senator is right that he is picking up delegates even in states he loses, but Super Tuesday has seriously dented his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee. Though he did better than some expected — winning his home state of Vermont in a landslide, plus Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota — Sanders was falling short of making up for Clinton’s very strong showing in the South, where she won six states, and in delegate-rich Massachusetts. (Superdelegates, who are chosen by the party and not allocated based on the popular vote, also overwhelmingly support Clinton.) On this course, Sanders is likely to find himself in a delegate hole he cannot dig out of.
But this pessimism has not reached Vermont, the campaign or the Sanders supporters who contributed $42 million to his campaign last month, outdoing Clinton’s fundraising machine. The hometown crowd gave Sanders a rock star’s reception, cheering for a full minute when he arrived on stage with his wife, Jane. Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other campaign surrogates introduced Sanders as the “next president of the United States” to the cheering crowd.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont addresses a primary night rally in Essex Junction, Vt., on Super Tuesday. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Sanders appears to have the money and the will to go all the way. And he doesn’t have to worry about big-time donors deciding it’s time for him to pull the plug if he can’t catch up with Clinton.
“We think we’re going to have the resources to go all the way,” Sanders’ senior adviser, Tad Devine, said. “In the past, campaigns ended because the bundlers said, ‘We aren’t going to bundle anymore.’ We don’t have any bundlers. The people who are investing in this campaign are doing so not because it’s a smart money calculation, but because they believe in Bernie Sanders.”
Devine said the campaign is looking forward to upcoming races in Kansas, Nebraska, Maine, Louisiana and Michigan. “We’re going to compete and win in as many states as possible,” he said.
Devine dismissed the possibility that Sanders supporters will lose some of their enthusiasm as they see their candidate’s chances dim.
“You know, I think our supporters are enthusiastic about Bernie and his message, not enthusiastic about his delegate totals,” he said.
Sanders has from the beginning been a candidate of ideas, when he entered the race nearly a year ago with almost zero name recognition to take on a candidate most Democrats saw as inevitable. His surprising popularity pushed Clinton to the left on many issues, from the Keystone Pipeline to economic inequality, and has changed the race forever. The money that keeps pouring into this campaign means he can continue to deliver this message, even if he doesn’t have a shot at the nomination.
“What I have said is that this campaign is not just about electing a president, it is about making a political revolution,” Sanders said at his victory rally.
One thing the campaign says won’t happen, no matter the outcome? Sharper attacks on Clinton.
“I’ve worked with Bernie for 20 years. We’ve never run a negative ad, and I predict we never will,” Devine said.