Bernie Sanders’ Uphill Path To the Nomination

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is adamant that it can win the Democrat nomination after a string of victories last weekend. The Clinton campaign maintains that is fanciful thinking.


In a conference call with reporters Monday, the Sanders campaign was confident going forward that they will be able to defeat Clinton and credit her delegate lead to their campaign strategically not competing in certain states.

Tad Devine, a senior advisor to the Sanders campaign, said over the phone, “almost all of Secretary Clinton’s delegate lead comes from states where she felt little or no competition.” The states he is referring to are the Southern ones Hillary swept on Super Tuesday.

“After Nevada we made a decision to take a state-win strategy,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a conference call Monday. This meant instead of concentrating on possibly getting more delegates total by competing strongly in congressional districts, the campaign would focus on winning Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. Sanders won all those heavily-white states besides Massachusetts.

The Sanders campaign now intends to compete strongly in every contest going forward, and they certainly have the money to do so. The Vermont senator out raised Clinton in February and has raised $4 million just since last weekend. (RELATED: Sanders Berns Through $1.65 Million On Private Jet Travel In February)

One of the states Sanders hopes to beat Clinton in is New York. He opened his campaign office in his birthplace of Brooklyn this past weekend to much fanfare. The primary there will be an uphill battle as Clinton served as a two-time Senator from the Empire State. This is in part why the Sanders campaign is confused as to why she won’t debate him in New York. (RELATED: Clinton Strategist: Hillary Won’t Debate Bernie In New York Unless He Changes His Tone)

Currently, Clinton leads Sanders 1,243 to 975 in pledged delegates. The former secretary of state additionally has the support of 469 superdelegates to Bernie’s 29 superdelegates. A total of 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the nomination and there are 1,833 available up for grabs.

“I think it is clear now to anybody who’s knows how to counts delegates 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.” Jeff Weaver, Sanders campaign manager said Monday.  He added, “Bernie has effectively precluded Hillary from doing that right now.”

The Clinton campaign likewise held a conference call Monday in which senior strategist Joel Benenson made a similar claim, saying Clinton has “a nearly insurmountable pledged delegate lead.”

The Sanders campaign has come to the conclusion they need the support of these “establishment” superdelegates and even contend that the support they have from superdelegates is underreported.

Weaver said, “We have a number of superdelegates that are not prepared to go public at this point who have indicated to us at this point that they are supporters. So we believe our superedelagate number is higher than the one that is publicly available.”

Democrat superdelegates consist of elected officials and party members, and convincing them to support Sanders will be difficult. He is an independent in the Senate who caucuses with Democrats and has said he ran as a Democrat for “media coverage.”

The Sanders campaign will make the appeal to superdelegates that the support the senator receives from independents makes him a stronger candidate in the general election. Tad Devine said, “we’re going to make an argument that you should nominate Bernie Sanders.”

The Democratic nomination process allocates delegates proportionally, so for Sanders to catch-up to Hillary in pledged delegates and begin to start appealing to superdelegates he will continue to win by large-margins as he did this weekend.

Early in the campaign before Iowa, the Sanders campaign was making parallels to then-Senator Obama’s upset of Clinton and they continue to do that today.

Weaver has said on the subject, “I’d also like to point out in 2008 some 120 superdelegates who were previously pledged to Secretary Clinton switched to President Obama once it became clear he was the stronger candidate.”