Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders today held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Only members of the press were admitted on this Sunday, when the club is usually closed.
Strong, angry, spirited, unflinching, the Vermont senator celebrated the one-year anniversary of his entry into the race for nomination as Democratic presidential nominee. He had announced his bid for the nomination in the District.
Within this year, he said, he took on the entire mainstream Democratic establishment and won 17 primaries/caucuses in every part of the country--a total of nine million votes, which some polls interpret as leading Hillary Clinton (HRC).
Within this year Sanders has raised $174 million, a record for this point in the primary cycle--without the aid of Super PACs or any device other than direct contributions from we the people averaging $27 apiece; in the last month alone donations exceeded $25 million.
"We can run without big money," he told reporters, who represented numerous mainstream vehicles as well as Al Jazeera, the Justice Integrity Project, and of course Oped News. The Press Club ballroom was filled to exact capacity.
Another accomplishment within the last year, said Sanders, is 1.1 million people having attended his rallies, the majority consisting of voters aged 45 years and under, which he called "the future of the Democratic Party and of this country."
The Vermont senator specified issues that "are on all minds," including the unbalanced economy; the criminal justice system; the question of a carbon tax; the crisis of polluted water distributed to the people of Flint, Michigan among other locations; fracking; elimination of tuition charges from all state-level colleges and universities; and raising corporate taxes.
Shifting to the subject of Democratic delegates to the party convention, he specified the total as 4,766, 4,447 of whom are pledged to HRC or him; there are also 719 super-delegates. The 2383 total needed for nomination is out of HRC's reach by the end of the formal primary season, June 11. As of today, HRC has 1645 pledged delegates to his 1318.
Before the primary season ends, voters in 10 states have yet to weigh in, along with the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam. He will need to win 710, or 65 percent of the 1083 remaining delegates. Sanders expressed optimism about winning in California and, over all, his goals are "tough but not impossible."
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"We will fight," he said.
Among the 719 super-delegates, HRC has amassed 520 while his total is only 7 percent in this category (ca. 50). In states where his victories were substantial if not landslides, he said, he should have won far more super-delegates. In Washington state, for example, where he won 73 percent of the votes, he won zero super-delegates while HRC won 10 (with seven more still undecided). These superdelegates' behavior is undemocratic--"they should honor the will of the people."
In Minnesota he won three super-delegates, compared to HRC's 11, even though he trounced her by 46 pledged delegates to her 31.
Sanders then listed differences between his views and HRC's: on trade policy, Wall Street priorities, the minimum wage, carbon tax, and multinational corporations paying their fair share of taxes. But both Democrats agree that a victory by Trump or any of his GOP rivals would be "a disaster."
Many of HRC's super-delegates. who committed themselves to her before he entered the race. should reconsider, he said. All of them should consider who will actually win the November race. "The evidence is clear that I would win," he said. "Every national and state poll" gives him a larger margin over Trump than HRC would win.
Moreover, evidence from swing states indicates that he would defeat Trump by "larger margins" than HRC would.
When many, many people come out to vote, Democrats win, he reminded us. The reverse is also true. The GOP triumphs when fewer people vote. In 2014, for example, 63 percent of the population stayed home from the polls and the GOP therefore won the open offices by a substantial margin.
He pointed to the "energy and excitement" that came to life among young populations when he entered the race, which could generate sorely needed wins in Congress and among state governorships.
Super-delegates must reconsider, he concluded. We need their support.
Responding to questions that followed, Sanders promised again to do everything he could to get a Democrat into the White House in November.
As to his legacy? He wants to be remembered as a "very good president of the United States."
Another crucial subject was the independents shut off from closed primaries, as occurred in New York. He would have beaten HRC in open primaries in most of the relevant states, he said. Independents do come out to vote in large numbers and their own numbers are growing. This disadvantage he'd fight to change, he said. [Among the 16 remaining primaries, only four are open and two are mixed.]
He also promised to work hard against Trump.
Seventeen primaries won as of May 1--"I'm proud of it," he concluded. Then Senator Sanders ended the conference, headed for a flight to Indiana.
(Article changed on May 1, 2016 at 17:09)
(Article changed on May 1, 2016 at 17:12)