Fourteen to Go: Sanders Set on 'Transforming Nation'
'The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be.'
That's how many Democratic presidential nominating contests remain. From Indiana next week to the District of Columbia on June 14—with delegate prizes as large as 546 in California and small as 12 in Guam to be won in between—14 states and territories have yet to hold their respective caucus or primary.
"That's why we are in this race until the last vote is cast," said Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, following a win in Rhode Island and losses to rival Hillary Clinton in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
"The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be," he said.
"That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible," Sanders continued, "to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free, and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change."
He struck a similar tone in West Virginia on Tuesday evening, telling a cheering crowd in Huntington: "This campaign is not just about electing a president, it is about transforming a nation."
To some degree, Sanders' campaign has already done that, argued commentator Jim Hightower in an op-ed on Tuesday.
"Sanders' vivid populist vision, unabashed idealism, and big ideas for restoring America to its own people have jerked the presidential debate out of the hands of status quo corporatists, revitalized the class consciousness and relevance of the Democratic Party, energized millions of young people to get involved, and proven to the Democratic establishment that they don't have to sell out to big corporate donors to raise the money they need to run for office," Hightower wrote.
"Bernie has substantively—even profoundly—changed American politics for the better, which is why he's gaining more and more support and keeps winning delegates," he continued. "From the start, he said: 'This campaign is not about me'— it's a chance for voters who have been disregarded and discarded to forge a new political revolution that will continue to grow beyond this election and create a true people's government."
And Sanders, in some capacity, will be there to help that revolution take shape.
"Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats. I am proud of my campaign's record in that regard."
—Senator Bernie Sanders
According to USA Today on Wednesday, Sanders strategist Tad Devine "said Monday that Sanders will arrive at the convention with enough pledged delegates to file minority reports—or dissents from the majority—at the event, which could prolong it by requiring debates on the issues most important to him if the campaigns don't negotiate their differences. Democratic Party rules allow for minority reports at the request of 25% of members on the convention's Platform, Credentials and Rules committees."
Among the issues Sanders wants to tackle at the convention, according to Devine, are voter participation, campaign funding, and the controversial system of superdelegates.
To that end, MSNBC wrote, a big victory in California's June 7 primary would "at least enhance Sanders' bargaining position with Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party heading into the July convention in Philadelphia."
The Nation's D.D. Guttenplan echoed that argument on Wednesday, writing that Sanders and his supporters have a "responsibility...to keep fighting for a living wage, free public college education, truly universal healthcare, an environmentally and economically sustainable energy system and an end to the endless wars of regime change that grind up so many men and women in the only jobs program embraced by conventional politics."
To fulfill that obligation, said Guttenplan, "Sanders needs to come to the table with as strong a hand—and as many delegates—as possible."
Meanwhile, observers on Wednesday pointed to another line in his Tuesday night statement, in which he touted his "resounding victory" in Rhode Island and noted it was "the one state with an open primary where independents had a say in the outcome."
"Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats," said Sanders. "I am proud of my campaign's record in that regard."
Writing at International Business Times, reporter Cristina Silva seized on that remark.
"Is Bernie Sanders angling to become vice president?" Silva wondered, suggesting his "move to underscore his own appeal among independents in the context of 'the ticket' could be a deliberate shift" from previous statements in which he said he would not want to be Clinton's vice president.
In recent weeks, Sanders campaign has said it is going to take its fight for the nomination all the way to the convention — where neither candidate is expected to have the necessary pledged delegate count to win on the first ballot. That could set up a divisive battle for so-called “super delegates” — elected officials and other party powerbrokers who get to independently vote on the nomination. Of late, Sanders' campaign has been citing polls that show him a stronger general election nominee to make the case that super delegates should consider supporting him at the convention. But if Clinton puts Sanders on the ticket, she might be able to circumvent a divisive convention battle in the name of a unity ticket.
Polls continue to show Sanders beating GOP frontrunner Donald Trump by considerably more sizeable margins than Clinton.