Bernie Sanders Campaigns In Connecticut Before Tough Slate Of Primaries

Apr 25, 2016
Originally published on April 25, 2016 6:34 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Turning to the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders is campaigning throughout the Northeast. But the chance that he can come from behind and win the nomination shrinks with every contest. He needs to win 59 percent of pledged delegates to overtake Hillary Clinton. NPR's Sam Sanders reports that for the Vermont senator's supporters, it's a different story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: This morning, Bernie Sanders held a campaign rally in Hartford, Conn. Polls show Hillary Clinton is ahead in that state, but that doesn't seem to matter to Sanders supporter Tracy Corcoran.

TRACY CORCORAN: I think he's got a great chance. I remember voting for Jerry Brown back in the '90s, and Jerry Brown won Connecticut. Ralph Nader had a strong support here, so I think there's a pretty liberal vote in Connecticut.

S. SANDERS: Now Jerry Brown and Ralph Nader did not go on to be president.

CORCORAN: They did not. But, you know, you always have to vote your heart in the primary and, you know, I think he has a great chance.

S. SANDERS: Corcoran is standing by her guy, as are most of the supporters gathered here in spite of all the delegate math and the spreadsheets and the percentages and in spite of the candidate himself admitting that his path to victory is, quote, "narrow." At the rally this morning, Sanders made no mention of any of that. He stuck to his talking points and said the words that have galvanized crowds for months now.

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BERNIE SANDERS: Looks to me like Hartford is ready for a political revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

S. SANDERS: Sanders urged his supporters to vote tomorrow, told them how far the campaign has come and said they could do even more.

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B. SANDERS: Yeah, they may have the money. They may have the power. They may own the media. But when we stand together and fight for an agenda that works for all of us, fight for a government that represents all of the people and not just the 1 percent, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

S. SANDERS: But in the midst of all of that, Sanders never once said he expected to win any contests tomorrow. The question on lots of minds is should Clinton win the nomination, what will Bernie supporters do? So I asked people there in the crowd if they felt they could support Hillary Clinton should Bernie come up short in delegates. Andrea Sokolowski said this.

ANDREA SOKOLOWSKI: No.

S. SANDERS: Joan Barker said this.

JOAN BARKER: I'm not sure that I would do that. I definitely know that there are other third-party candidates.

S. SANDERS: Tracy Corcoran.

CORCORAN: You know, I'm not sure yet. I haven't decided.

S. SANDERS: And Melissa Cavrel.

MELISSA CAVREL: I guess everybody's asking that. Yes, I would vote for her because I don't like the alternative.

S. SANDERS: Clearly, there's no consensus. But that decision could be delayed for a while. Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, spoke to the press after the rally, and he basically said Sanders isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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JEFF WEAVER: This is a powerful movement he's built, and we're going to take it to the convention.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So this is going to be a contested convention for the Democrats.

WEAVER: Oh, absolutely, 100 percent.

S. SANDERS: And Weaver said Sanders has already won.

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WEAVER: We've already won because he's clearly dominated this campaign in terms of messaging of the issues that are being discussed in this campaign - are issues that are only being discussed because he's in this race. So in terms of that metric, we've won that one long ago.

S. SANDERS: That may be true, but on Election Day that's not the metric that counts. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Hartford. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.