Bernie Sanders Campaign Looks To Consolidate Delegate Lead On Super Tuesday

Mar 3, 2020
Originally published on March 3, 2020 7:08 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Vermont is another one of the states holding a primary today, and that's where Bernie Sanders is spending his Super Tuesday. We'll be hearing from our reporters with campaigns around the country throughout the show, and one of those reporters joins us now - NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign in Vermont.

Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good afternoon.

SHAPIRO: Sanders voted earlier today in the city of Burlington and got a nice reaction there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We love you, Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.

SHAPIRO: And speaking to reporters there, Sanders talked about his campaign being able to generate enthusiasm.

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BERNIE SANDERS: And to beat Donald Trump, we are going to need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country. We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign.

SHAPIRO: So, Scott, what are you hearing from the Sanders campaign today?

DETROW: You know, all along, the Sanders campaign has used March 3 as the biggest day of their overall strategy. It's, of course, the day with the most delegates at stake. But Sanders has really organized towards March 3 all along, especially in California, which we're going to talk about next. He has had a huge resource lead over former Vice President Joe Biden. And I'd say up until Saturday, the Sanders campaign thought, like, this could be the day where they take a lead and never give it back.

The last 24 hours have made things a lot more interesting, especially with this rush of endorsements to Joe Biden and Joe Biden looking like a candidate surging with momentum after not looking that way for months and months. We have seen so many times where candidates really take off at the last minute in this primary cycle. So I think there's a lot more uncertainty, but still, the Sanders campaign feels like it can win California, win a few other key states and still come out of today with a lot of delegates.

SHAPIRO: All right. As you said, we're going to talk about California next. Why does California play such a prominent role in the Sanders strategy for tonight?

DETROW: Well, there's 415 delegates at stake there. That's the most of any state, obviously. Sanders lost California in a really tough contest at the very end of a bitter 2016 primary with Hillary Clinton, and he's really spent a lot of time organizing there ever since, especially reaching out to Latino voters. We saw Latino support carry him in the Nevada caucuses, and the Sanders campaign feels like they can get a lot of support from them in California as well.

California's probably the biggest change that candidates dropping out backing Biden might materialize in because there's that 15% threshold, right? Up until a few days ago, with a lot more candidates on the ballot, it looked like there was a chance that Bernie Sanders could be the only candidate to get more than 15% in California, which would have given him an enormous boost of delegates. That might not be the case tonight. We will keep our eye on California, but, one, the polls there don't close until 11 o'clock Eastern, and two, with so many vote by mail and provisional ballots, it's going to take a long time to know for sure what the breakdown is.

SHAPIRO: Which other states is Sanders hoping to do well in tonight?

DETROW: He spent a lot of time in Colorado, in Utah in particular, in Minnesota over the last few days. Obviously, the home state of Vermont - Sanders feels pretty confident that they could maybe win all of the delegates there, like they did in 2016. I think the states to watch where Joe Biden's surge might show itself and dampen Sanders' support is Virginia and North Carolina especially, two places where Sanders was really campaigning in the last week.

SHAPIRO: Just briefly, Sanders has been expected to do well tonight, especially given his strong support among Latinos with Texas and California voting. After tonight, what does the landscape look like for him?

DETROW: Well, you can expect him to campaign a lot in Michigan, one of the states that votes last week. With so much of the focus on who can beat Donald Trump...

SHAPIRO: You mean next week. You said last week.

DETROW: Yes. Yeah. Well, it's campaign brain, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Right.

DETROW: Next week, you can expect a lot of time in Michigan and conversations about not only who will win the Michigan primary but who would be the best Democrat in Michigan in November.

SHAPIRO: NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign. Thank you.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.