Sanders Gains Momentum with Landslide Victories in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington State

Re-energized by his latest triumphs, Sanders and his base prepare for upcoming primaries that could determine the Democratic nominee

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Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR, REPORTER: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders notched a pair of big wins in Alaska and Washington on Saturday, March 26, chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race to pick the party’s candidate for the White House.

Sanders was aiming for a sweep of three Western states – Hawaii also was holding a contest – that would generate more momentum in his bid to overtake Clinton .

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:

Let me, let me begin by thanking the people of Alaska for giving us a resounding victory tonight. We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton’s lead and we have, with your support coming in Wisconsin, we have a path to victory.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has increasingly turned her attention toward a potential Nov. 8 general election, claiming she is on the path to wrapping up the nomination.

Coming into Saturday had led Sanders by about 300 pledged delegates in the race for the 2,382 delegates needed to be nominated at the July convention, but on Sanders cut into that lead by 25 after his Alaska and Washington victories.

He’s also expected to perform well in Hawaii where results were not yet available, but he does have the powerful backing of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War Veteran who has been campaigning for Sanders after resigning vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee last month

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D-HAWAII)

Bernie Sanders voted against the Iraq war, he understands the cost of war, that that cost has continued when our veterans come home. Bernie Sanders will defend our country and take the trillions of dollars that are spent in interventionists regime change, unnecessary war, and invest it here at home .

Adding in the support of super-delegates – party officials who are free to back any candidate – Clinton has a commanding 1,690 delegates to 946 for Sanders. But if Sanders can win two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, it is expected super delegates will back the democratic candidate with the popular mandate.

Sanders has energized the party’s liberal base and young voters with his calls to rein in Wall Street, provide single payer health care, end so called free trade deals, and has been unabashed critic of corporate power. Which is part of the reason a reason why much of the mainstream media has consistently given Sanders less coverage than other candidates and written off the possibility of a Sanders come from behind victory.

But Sanders has vowed to continue his campaign until the convention, pointing to polls showing his huge gains – he’s now virtually tied with Clinton nationally and he’s polling better against Republican candidates then she has. After raising $140 million from small donations averaging about $27 each, he has the money to fight on as long as he wants.

The Democratic race now moves to contests in Wisconsin on April 5 where Clinton holds a slim 2.5 point lead and 96 delegates up for grabs.

Some, like award winning author Robert McChesney argue that if Sanders can capitalize on his current momentum, he could catch Clinton.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY:

If Bernie Sanders wins in Wisconsin and wins big, I think we go into the New York primary on April 19th, with basically it being wide open at that point. Its a level playing field. So Bernie is going to have two complete weeks to campaign on nothing but New York state. He’s going to be able to go every corner of New York state and make his case, and let people see him in action. And that should bode very well.

We have never seen Bernie have two solid weeks in a state going straight up against Hillary. And he’s going to be going up against the Democratic party machine, including DeBlasio, and the governor. And it’s a machine that’s going to come at him with everything firing.

But at the same time, Bernie is the classic outsider, New York state voters, registered voters tend to be progressive. I like his chances. I think this is exactly where Bernie sanders would like to make this fight, for the future of the Democratic Party, progressive politics, and the nation be fought.

And on April 20th, the day after that, we will have a very clear sense of whether it’s a legitimate race and who the favorite is.

For the Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.