Despite the calls for Bernie Sanders to step aside so that the presidential "mudslinging contest" between party frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can proceed, Sanders' top aide explained Tuesday that the reason his candidate is staying in the fight is simple: The issues.
"As long as there's a Democratic primary process going on, people are talking about issues that are important not only to Democrats but to Americans as a whole," campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN's "New Day."
"As soon as this Democratic primary process is over," he continued, "we're not going to hear any more talk about the minimum wage, we're not going to hear any more talk about making college affordable or providing healthcare to everybody."
Weaver made the comments as voters in Oregon and Kentucky prepared to cast their ballots Tuesday for one of the Democratic candidates. If turnout is high, both races have the potential to be another upset victory for the progressive senator, though polling has been scant. While the demographics generally favor Sanders, neither state allows independent voters to participate in the primary.
Regardless of his 19 primary and caucus wins, the rhetoric among media, centrist Democrats, and Hillary Clinton supporters is that Sanders no longer belongs in the race and that his continued presence "could cost Hillary the election," as Bill Scher wrote at Politico.
Alternately, Weaver argued Tuesday that prolonging the primary battle will be beneficial to whoever comes out on top while putting off the inevitable "mudslinging" and "character assassination" that will come with the general election.
"I would say that we are helping Hillary Clinton, as a matter of fact," Weaver added, "assuming that she's the nominee and I think that Hillary Clinton is helping Bernie Sanders, assuming that he's the nominee."
Clinton currently leads by less than 300 pledged delegates: 1,716 to Sanders' 1,433.
Sanders himself has vowed that he will press on until the Democratic National Convention in July.
"Every victory we earn is extraordinarily important for our political revolution," he told supporters after clinching a win in Indiana earlier this month. "Not just because of the delegates we earn, but because each win and all the work that goes into that effort sends an unmistakable message to the establishment of this country that we will never stop fighting for the values we share. I say we keep fighting. Are you with me?"