Bernie Sanders reaffirmed Sunday that he is not planning to accept defeat in the primary race until the Democratic Party’s convention in July, regardless of the outcome of the June 7 primaries, which include delegate-rich California and New Jersey.
Talking to reporters before an event in Oakland, California, Sanders pre-emptively rejected any declarations about Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominee until superdelegates vote in Philadelphia at the party's convention this summer, even if she passes the threshold for required delegates next week, as she likely will.
"I think you know there’s been some discussion that some of the media is going to say the campaign is over, she is the nominee on Tuesday night after the votes come in from New Jersey — that’s not accurate," said Sanders, who has been feverishly campaigning in California, where 475 pledged delegates are at stake.
The Sanders campaign has said for months that it intends to fight until the party meets in Philadelphia, even if he does not have the lead in pledged delegates. However, until recently, the Vermont senator has also consistently contended he will pass her on that front. These days he talks about the momentum he will have going into the convention. His comments today were notable in that they come so late in the game, as Clinton stands on the verge of securing the number of delegates needed for the nomination.
Considering her resounding lead among the party’s superdelegates, the former secretary of state currently needs only 73 more delegates to clinch the nomination. She has 2,310 pledged delegates and superdelegates committed to her; 2,383 are needed for the Democratic nomination.
If Clinton wins 50 percent of the pledged delegates available in contests this weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, then she will only be 39 delegates shy going into June 7.
"She has received obviously a whole lot of superdelegate support, no question about that," Sanders said. "A lot more than I have. But superdelegates don’t vote until they’re on the floor of the Democratic convention. That’s when they vote." He added that "starting yesterday," his job was to convince superdelegates of his electability against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Sanders has been feverishly campaigning up and down California, hoping for a landslide victory in the state, where 475 pledged delegates are at stake.