Bernie Sanders held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday to mark one year since launching his presidential bid, vowing to take his fight for the Democratic nomination to the superdelegates currently supporting frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a tough road to climb,” Sanders told reporters at the National Press Club, but “not an impossible” one.
In a scene reminiscent of the sparsely attended, April 30, 2015, press conference on Capitol Hill where he formally announced his run, the Vermont senator said that those superdelegates supporting the former secretary of state ought to rethink their pledge — particularly in states where he won handily.
“I would ask the superdelegates to respect the wishes of the people of those states,” Sanders said.
Overall, Clinton has the support of 520 superdelegates, while Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, has “all of 39” — despite winning 17 primaries and caucuses “in every part of the country.”
Sanders pointed out that although he won Washington state’s Democratic caucuses by 46 points (73 percent to 27 percent) and 25 of the state’s 36 pledged delegates, Clinton has the support of 10 of Washington’s Democratic unpledged superdelegates.
“We have zero,” he said. “Obviously, we are taking on the entire Democratic establishment.”
Sanders on Capitol Hill after announcing his run for president, April 30, 2015. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Clinton’s lead over Sanders in pledged delegates is 1,645 to 1,318.
“Let’s be clear,” Sanders said. “It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14 — the end of the primary season — with pledged delegates alone. She will need superdelegates to take her over the top at the convention in Philadelphia. In other words, it will be a contested convention.”
He urged the superdelegates to consider which Democratic candidate would have the best chance of winning in November. And “based on virtually every national and state poll over the last several months,” Sanders said, that would be him.
“I would be the stronger candidate,” he said, noting that it “would be a disaster if Donald Trump or some other rightwing Republican were to become president of the United States.”
Sanders also said superdelegates should consider the youthful enthusiasm he’s injected into the Democratic Party, drawing a total of more than 1.1 million people to his rallies and a record 7.4 million individual campaign contributions — statistics that Sanders says prove his nomination would not only secure the White House but also help Democrats win down-ballot races in the fall.
“The energy and excitement in this campaign is with the work we have done,” Sanders said. “This is an important reality that superdelegates cannot ignore.”