Bernie Sanders is vowing to remain in the Democratic race despite big losses on Tuesday, telling supporters during a speech in Arizona that they should continue to fight on and asking if they are “ready for a revolution.”
Sanders suffered big losses on Tuesday, losing to Hillary Clinton by big margins in Florida and North Carolina as well as Ohio and losing ground in Illinois and Missouri, which his campaign had hoped would be battlegrounds.
Sanders did not reference the votes directly in his Phoenix speech, but later expressed his commitment to remain in the race.
“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories on Tuesday. I also want to thank the millions of voters across the nation who supported our campaign and elected delegates who will take us all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,” Sanders said in a statement.
“With more than half the delegates yet to be chosen and a calendar that favors us in the weeks and months to come, we remain confident that our campaign is on a path to win the nomination.”
Hillary Clinton added to her delegate lead on Tuesday, now leading by roughly 300 pledged delegates.
Despite the difficult night, Sanders took the stage in Phoenix with the energy and vigor that has marked his campaign to date, looking nothing like a candidate on the edge of dropping out of the race.
Bernie Sanders asks PHX crowd if they're "ready for a revolution." No signs of giving up tonight. pic.twitter.com/IDuj0KTPEu— Dennis Welch (@dennis_welch) March 16, 2016
Sanders had also come under sharper attacks from the Hillary Clinton campaign leading up to Tuesday’s key votes. In an interview published by NBC, Bill Clinton downplayed the importance of Sanders’ surprising win in Michigan last week and said Sanders was lowering the tone of the race leading up to the key vote in Illinois.
“I think you know the answer to that,” Bill Clinton said when asked why Clinton was not performing as well in polls in Illinois. “This should be a race for president. And there is a blame candidate and a responsibility candidate in this race.”
“I’m betting the responsibility candidate will win,” Bill Clinton added.
But it was Hillary Clinton who pulled through in Illinois, delivering what may have been the fatal blow to the Sanders campaign.
As Politico noted, the Bernie Sanders campaign came into Tuesday with hopes of flipping the race.
The Vermont senator’s best-case scenario Tuesday has him pulling out three victories — he’s within single digits of Clinton in the latest polls in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio — an outcome that would rattle the race and raise new questions about the durability of the Clinton campaign.
Even if Tuesday doesn’t significantly alter the delegate math that makes Clinton the prohibitive front-runner, a strong Sanders performance in the industrial Midwest would make possible the long campaign that the senator and his aides switched to after their big and unexpected loss in the Nevada caucuses.
That would have relied heavily on Sanders’ ability to break through with non-white voters, a key group that he has struggled with to date.
“In Michigan, Sanders won white voters, but in Ohio, Clinton won them, 51 percent to 48 percent, and that seems to have made a difference,” noted Clare Malone of FiveThirtyEight. “Her support with black voters in the state also remained strong — she won them 68 percent to 30 percent — but that was less an overwhelming win of the demographic than her record in other states.”
After hopes of a race-turning series of wins, Bernie Sanders instead suffered what could be the most stinging loss of the campaign, taking the air out after last week’s big and unexpected win in Michigan. But Sanders showed Tuesday that he will continue to fight on, and his supporters have not wavered.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]