“As of today we have now won 16 primaries and caucuses all over this country,” Sanders said at a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, before his Rhode Island win was projected. “And with your help we're going to win here in West Virginia.”
He used his primetime speech to make a direct appeal to Democratic Party convention delegates and cast himself as the best candidate to defeat GOP front-runner Donald Trump in November.
"This campaign is doing as well as it is with the extraordinary energy and enthusiasm that we are generating all across this country. Look at, look at this room here tonight. We have over 6,000 people,” he said to the packed hall. "The reason that we are doing so much better against Republican candidates is that not only are we winning the overwhelming majority of democratic votes, but we are winning independent votes and some Republican votes as well, and that is a point that I hope the delegates to the Democratic convention fully understand.”
Sanders has done significantly better than Hillary Clinton among independents –- a fact he mentioned during his speech. He talked about the closed primary system that has kept independents from voting but urged party elites — and those watching to -- remember that independents vote in general elections.
He did not mention the voting today, but instead the Vermont senator began his speech with a line that he has delivered every day since he launched his presidential campaign, but considering the increasingly impossible odds his campaign now faces, the line seemed to take on new significance Tuesday night.
"This campaign is not just about electing a president. It is about transforming our nation,” Sanders said, in a way telegraphing his intention to use his campaign platform to continue to build a grassroots movement that extends beyond the lifetime of a viable bid for Democratic Party nomination. The entire opening of his remarks in West Virginia emphasized the importance of a so–called “political revolution.”
"You are the revolutionaries because you understand that unlike football or basketball," he continued. "Politics is not a spectator sport.