“I don’t believe they have an insurmountable lead,” Sanders said, from Arizona, where he was campaigning. “Secretary Clinton has done phenomenally well in the Deep South, and in Florida. That’s where she has gotten the lion’s share of votes. And I congratulate her for that. But we’re out of the Deep South now.”
Clinton pointed to a memo by her campaign manager, Robby Mook, who said she has an “insurmountable lead” in the delegate count. The campaign noted its pledged delegate lead of more than 300 is twice as large as any that then-Illinois senator, Barack Obama, held over Clinton in the 2008 primary. “And, note Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada and Iowa are generally not considered Deep South,” said Clinton spokesman, Brian Fallon, referring to states won by the ex-secretary of state. Clinton’s win in Missouri means she won all five of Tuesday’s Democratic primary contests. She also beat Sanders in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina.
Clinton’s lead of pledged delegates over Sanders, from the primaries and caucuses, is 1,147 to 830. When including superdelegates, or party officials who can back any candidate, Clinton has a much bigger lead — 1,614 to 856. Sanders called his loss in Ohio a “major disappointment,” adding, “I thought we had a chance to win, or come close in Ohio, and we didn’t.” But he said that while “we know we’ve got a hill to climb,” he was pleased his campaign was able to accumulate more delegates.
Responding to reports that President Obama called on Democrats to rally around Clinton as the likely Democrat nominee, Sanders said it was “absurd” to suggest he drop out of the race.
“The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process ... I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote,” Sanders told MSNBC. He predicted the upcoming calendar of races in several Western states, including Arizona and Washington, and April contests in Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania, would offer him the chance to catch up.
“We think, from now on out, we are having states that, everything being equal, we stand a chance to do well in. We think we have a path toward victory,” he said, pointing to California’s June primary. “We’ve got some big states coming up, and we think if we can do well, if we go into the convention with delegates, we’ve got a shot at taking the nomination.”
Sanders also rejected claims by Clinton’s allies that his message had turned overly negative. “These are folks who have waged some very, very strong attacks against me almost every day,” he said, pointing to Clinton’s suggestion he didn’t support the bailout of US automakers or that he had attacked Planned Parenthood. “We have never run a negative ad. But not to discuss Secretary Clinton’s record, well, that’s what a campaign is about.