Calls for him to drop out of the presidential race are "absurd," Bernie Sanders said Thursday, following reports that political heavy hitters including President Barack Obama are urging Democrats to rally around rival Hillary Clinton as the nominee.
The Missouri primary was called Thursday evening in Clinton's favor, meaning that she swept this week's contests and leading her campaign to declare Clinton has an "almost insurmountable" lead in pledged delegates. Corporate media has largely parroted that narrative.
But as Sanders told MSNBC in an interview Thursday: "The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process...I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote."
In fact, he continued, "to suggest we don't fight this out to the end would be, I think, a very bad mistake. People want to become engaged in the political process by having vigorous primary and caucus process."
In an interview Friday with the Associated Press, he added, "I don't believe they have an insurmountable lead. Secretary Clinton has done phenomenally well in the Deep South and in Florida. That's where she has gotten the lion’s share of votes. And I congratulate her for that. But we're out of the Deep South now."
Referencing places like Arizona, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania, Sanders said: "We've got some big states coming up and we think if we can do well, if we go into the convention with delegates, we’ve got a shot at taking the nomination."
Indeed, the Atlantic noted on Friday, "In the next month, six states will hold caucuses, contests that often reward grassroots enthusiasm, which could give Sanders an edge. Some of the states coming up on the primary calendar also feature heavily white electorates, a demographic makeup that has helped deliver victory for Sanders in the past."
Furthermore, Kevin Gosztola wrote this week:
Staff and volunteers knew the map of primaries did not favor Sanders until after March 15. The campaign knew it would be a slog to eke out wins or avoid blowouts in states, where large numbers of delegates would be rewarded. The campaign also recognized southern states would overwhelmingly go to Clinton and give her a big lead. So, the path to victory, which Sanders believes still exists, factored in many of the outcomes which the media cites when claiming there is just no way Clinton will lose.
But observers have pointed to bigger reasons, too, for Sanders to remain in the race until the Democratic National Convention in June.
"Keeping Clinton from reverting to a neoliberal default isn’t the only reason for Sanders to stay in the race—or the most important," D.D. Guttenplan wrote this week at The Nation. "As Sanders has always said, his aim is 'a political revolution.' Winning the nomination would be nice, but is neither necessary nor sufficient to bring that about."
"Building a nationwide, durable network of mobilized, active supporters prepared to keep working for universal healthcare, a living wage, ending Wall Street welfare and America’s endless wars—including the drug wars—in numbers great enough to Occupy the Democratic Party and take it back from its corporate funders is absolutely crucial," Guttenplan wrote. "So, too, is the difficult work of stitching together movements like #BlackLivesMatter, Fight for 15, immigrant rights, climate justice, and voting rights into a coalition prepared to march together, vote together, and transform our politics—and our country. Yet that is the task we face."