Hillary Clinton Looks To Upcoming Primaries To Solidify Campaign

May 4, 2016
Originally published on May 5, 2016 3:30 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've got two more members of NPR's political team in the studio with us to talk about the Democratic race. Welcome, Ron Elving.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Audie.

CORNISH: And Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Glad to be here.

CORNISH: So it's a different story on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton last night in Indiana. Tamara, this doesn't change the Trajectory of the race, right, I mean, even though Sanders has made it clear that he's not going anywhere.

KEITH: Sanders has absolutely made it clear he's not going anywhere. And he made it clear once again in an interview airing tomorrow morning on Morning Edition. He says he intends to stay in the race at least until the last vote is cast in Washington, D.C. - June 14. Here's a little clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: I think it is good for the United States of America, good for the Democratic Party to have a vigorous debate to engage people in the political process. You know, two years ago, in 2014, 63 percent of the American people didn't even bother to vote. And 80 percent of young people and 80 percent of low-income people did not bother to vote in the midterm election.

I think that that's pretty pathetic. And I think that Democrats do well when the voter turnout is high. Republicans lose when the voter turnout is high. So I'm going to do everything I can to stimulate political discourse in this country, get young people, working people involved in the political process

KEITH: Bernie Sanders has literally been talking about low voter turnout for his entire political career - for 40 years - in much the same way. And the question coming out of this primary process is, how does he harness his movement, his political revolution to change that? Does he use his leverage that he's gained with this candidacy to force changes in the Democratic nominating process to open it up to independents or younger voters? And that is one of the many things, as he continues on to the next states, that he is likely going to be thinking about.

CORNISH: Sanders has had a very narrow path, but talk about the math, Ron. Just how narrow is it?

ELVING: It's so narrow, Audie, that it really takes some imagination to see it. He's behind by 800 delegates if you look at the scoreboard. He would need to win every remaining state by more than 25 points if he were going to get the nomination. And so if you listen to the way he talks about the race, he says it's all about the superdelegates, so let's just let the superdelegates vote the way their states did, as he has suggested would be a good reform for the party. Well, if you do that, it does trim Hillary Clinton's lead among superdelegates, but her lead among that category is still 200 delegates. So she is still, overall, ahead by 500 delegates. And this isn't uphill; this is vertical.

CORNISH: We heard him talking about voter turnout. What else do you think he wants?

ELVING: He also would like to change the direction of the Democratic Party. He wants to make it more progressive. He wants to make it more like the kind of socialist party that he would envision as an independent socialist. He wants a commitment to a higher minimum wage on the federal level. And he wants commitment to many other things that would fundamentally change the economy. And he wants campaign finance reform, perhaps above everything else.

CORNISH: Tamara Keith, you've been covering Hillary Clinton. And, you know, obviously it would be easier for her if Bernie Sanders were to drop out. That's not happening, so what can she hope for from him?

KEITH: Well, she's definitely not calling for him to drop out. She stayed in the Democratic race last time, in 2008, right until California voted at the very end. But she would love to have some kind of a unity moment. In 2008, she and Barack Obama went to Unity, N.H., and they held hands, and they - they really moved forward toward the Democratic nomination.

What she can hope for is for Bernie Sanders to follow through on this pledge that he's made that he will not allow Donald Trump to be elected president, that he will not run a third-party candidacy. But she'd also love for him, at some point when this has wound its way through, to turn to his supporters and convince them not to write-in Bernie Sanders or just to stay home.

CORNISH: And in the meantime, how is she thinking about Donald Trump, the apparent nominee for Republicans?

KEITH: She did a bunch of television interviews today where she said she's ready for him. On CNN, she called Donald Trump a loose cannon not once, but four times. And her campaign put out the first of what one can only imagine will be a series of videos showing all of Donald Trump's Republican opponents, as well as some other Republicans like Mitt Romney, totally trashing him. So welcome to the next six months.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Thank you.

KEITH: You're welcome.

CORNISH: And Ron Elving. Thank you.

ELVING: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.