Sanders Still Hoping for Big California Win and Other Victories Tuesday, Vows to Continue Campaign
Bernie Sanders wrapped up his presidential campaign in California much the same way he launched his insurgent effort a year before—dismissing the naysayers, marching to his own drumbeat and stubbornly forging ahead, insisting he would prevail.
“Think about the courage and the determination of so many millions of people, for so many years, who came together, who took on their contemporary cultures, who took on the ruling class and helped create a better America. And here we are today in 2016,” said Sanders, speaking to more than 10,000 in San Francisco Monday night with his back to the Golden Gate Bridge.
“People are looking around them and they are understanding that it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. People are looking around them and they are demanding real change in America today. And that is what this campaign is about.”
In a nearly hour-long speech, Sanders predicted he would win the California primary today, as well as contests in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, and do well enough against Hillary Clinton in New Jersey (where she is expected to win) to demonstrate to the Democratic Party’s superdelegates that he is the candidate best suited to beat Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump will not become president of the United States. And he will not become president for a number of fairly obvious reasons. Reason number one: in every national poll and in every statewide poll, we beat him and we beat him badly,” Sanders said. “And I should point out to every one of the Democratic delegates going to Philadelphia, we beat Trump by far larger margins than does Hillary Clinton.”
“And the second reason that we will defeat Trump, then, is because of you,” Sanders continued. “There is no objective observer, none, who will deny, we have the energy and the grassroots activism that no other campaign has. And what that means in a political sense is when you have millions of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for change, that means that you have a large voter turnout in November.”
Like an Old Testament prophet, Sanders clung hard and fast Monday to his vision of the promised land and a way out of the desert that is life without justice in America. He began his day in Northern California with a press conference where he assailed reporters to stop “speculating” about the outcome of the nominating process, when repeatedly pressed to concede that he would not defeat Clinton, and repeatedly asked when he would endorse her candidacy. He repeatedly chided them, saying he would not take part in such “speculation.”
That room full of hostile mainstream media reporters became a nationwide torrent later in the afternoon when the Associated Press announced that Clinton had clinched the Democratic nomination with its analysis of the Democratic Party’s superdelegates, who make up 15 percent of convention voting attendees and are elected officials, party leaders and top allies. It was an astounding display of mainstream media hubris, coming just hours before the final large primary day of the 2016 presidential nominating season.
The AP, which is the largest news service in the country, often providing the national political content for daily newspapers and local TV stations, knows full well that both Sanders and Clinton had called for Tuesday’s voting to play out, with Clinton signaling that she expected to claim the title of being presumptive nominee later today. She didn’t embrace the AP’s call, which came exactly a week after it made the same pronouncement on the GOP side, saying it had polled the unplugged Republican Party delegates and found that Trump had clinched it.
“I've got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” Mrs. Clinton said, the New York Times reported. “We have six elections tomorrow, and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
The AP knows that traditional media organizations are very careful not to indulge in last-minute interference on behalf of a political candidate, out of respect for the public and the voting process. Bur like everything else in 2016, it seemed the AP was throwing out old scripts and indulging in the political journalism equivalent of foisting a giant selfie on the country and the states voting Tuesday.
“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” said Michael Briggs, Sanders' spokesman, in a statement released on their website. “Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then. They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race. Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”
Meanwhile, Sanders' final rally, in San Francisco’s foggy, windswept Presidio, capped weeks of campaigning across the state since mid-May where he held 39 rallies and spoke to nearly 250,000 people, he told the crowd at Crissy Field. Voter registration across California is at a record high, especially among young people and first-time voters, which suggests that the state might see a high turnout for the presidential primary.
Sanders’ speech summed up his well-known stances, calling for sweeping reforms to restore individual rights, dignity and justice across America’s economic and political life.
“Tomorrow, as you all know, there is a very important primary in this beautiful state,” he said, in closing. “This is the most important primary that we have had in the entire Democratic nominating process. There are 475 delegates at stake tomorrow. And let me tell you based on my experience during this campaign what will happen.
“If there is a large voter turnout we will win,” he said. “If there is a very large voter turnout we will win by a big margin. But if there is a low voter turnout we will likely lose. So our job tomorrow is to make certain that here in California that we have the largest voter turnout of any Democratic primary in the history of this state. and that tomorrow, this great state of California, one of the most progressive states in America, is on board the political revolution.”
Sanders is hoping for a major upset that will force the Democratic Party to reassess its 2016 ticket. He could win California and that still could not happen; most Democrats, especially Clinton supporters, dismiss such notions. But Sanders would not have won 20 states and millions of votes, the vast majority of them from people 45 and under, if he didn’t disregard the establishment naysayers and forge ahead. And that is what he is still doing as California votes today.
The latest polls show a tight race, and what happens after that is anyone’s guess. But as Sanders himself told the crowd on Monday night, change has never been freely given in America. It must be demanded and be taken.
“Real change never, ever comes from the top on down, it always comes from the bottom on up,” he said. “As Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist reminds us, freedom is never given to you, dignity is never given to you. It is something that you have to fight for. And that is the history of all progress in America.”