Bernie Sanders said on Thursday that he has to go through “a hard fight” to catch Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race. He asserted his determination to win and that it would be “outrageously undemocratic” not to continue and totally “absurd” to suggest he drop out of the race.
“Our progressive agenda has enormous support,” the Vermont senator and democratic socialist said in an interview ahead of a scheduled rally. “For anyone to rule us out is making a mistake.”
Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors last Friday that Sanders was approaching the point at which his campaign against Clinton would end, and that the party must soon come together to back her, the New York Times reported.
Sanders did not want to comment directly on Obama’s reported remarks, yet he pushed back on the idea that his campaign had run its course and he should throw in the towel.
“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 in an interview.
After losing all five primaries to Clinton, Sanders conducted a round of media interviews Thursday afternoon.
According to a tally by The Associated Press, Clinton now leads Sanders among pledged delegates required to secure the nomination, 1,139 to 825,. To keep up with the former secretary of state, Sanders would need to win about 58 percent of the delegates at stake in the primaries and caucuses during the second half of the race.
Furthermore, Sanders falls way behind Clinton in the number of elected officials and other party leaders known as superdelegates who also have a say on the party’s nominee.
In a fundraising solicitation Wednesday, Sanders assured supporters that he has “an extremely good chance” to win nearly every state that votes in the coming month, starting with Arizona, Idaho and Utah next Tuesday.
During the interview, he refused to call any of the upcoming contests “must-win” and said it was “hard to say” how he would fare in Arizona, the biggest prize among the three states on Tuesday.
A Merrill poll released this week showed Clinton leading Sanders in Arizona 50 percent to 24 percent with 26 percent undecided. Sanders aides have said their polling shows a much tighter race.
Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, signaled Thursday that it intends to make a statement in Arizona.
“Bernie thinks it is the beginning of his turnaround,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said on Twitter. “We think we are going to win. Showdown!”
Looking beyond Tuesday, Sanders said he is heartened that “we have the largest states in the country yet to come,” adding that he is confident he can do well in delegate-rich California and New York.
“I’ve got a shot to win California, and I think we can win it big,” Sanders said, adding that some of the most progressive states in the country are on the West Coast and have yet to cast ballots.
Sanders reiterated that he has no intention of getting out of the race before the Democratic convention in July, stressing his ultimate goal of being “elected president of the United States”.