Though the elevated hopes of the Bernie Sanders' campaign and his supporters were dashed when he fell short of a come-from-behind shocker like the one that rocked the political world last week in Michigan, Tuesday night's primary results in five states—Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri—were such that Sanders and Hillary Clinton will continue to battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.
Clinton enjoyed resounding wins, much as expected, in both Florida and North Carolina while also claiming a sizable victory (56 percent to 43 percent) in Ohio, where recent polling and anecdotal data had suggested Sanders might be able to eke out an upset.
"The reason that we have defied all expectations, is that we are doing something very radical in American politics—we are telling the truth."
—Bernie SandersAs of this writing, with just about 90 percent of the precincts reporting, Sanders was trailing Clinton in Illinois 51 percent to 48 percent, with just over 40,000 votes separating them. In Missouri, Sanders was holding onto a narrow lead, but that contest—as in Illinois—was still deemed "too close to call."
Neither candidate waited for the final verdict of all five contests to deliver speeches. For his part, Sanders downplayed the disappointment of the evening while hammering home his populist message in remarks that lasted more than an hour.
"We started this campaign at 3 percent in the national polls," Sanders declared from a podium to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. "We have come a long way in 10 months. And the reason that we have done as well as we have, the reason that we have defied all expectations, is that we are doing something very radical in American politics—we are telling the truth."
"And the truth," he continued, "is not always pleasant, is not always what we want to hear. But we cannot go forward unless we deal with the realities of American society today, and that is what we are going to do."
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"Democracy is not complicated—it is one person one vote," said Sanders. "You want to vote for me, great. You don’t, that's okay. But what I do not want to see are billionaires spending unlimited sums of money buying elections and undermining the democracy which has made our country so great."
Meanwhile, in a speech championing her message, Clinton thanked supporters while also making it clear that even as her contest with Sanders continues, her campaign believes she can now begin focusing on the general election, with an eye toward beating Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
"We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and closer to winning this election in November," she declared.
And later added, "Our next president has to bring our country together. So we can all share in the promise of America. We should be breaking down barriers, not building walls. We're not going to succeed by dividing this country between us and them."