Following a slew of climactic primary contests, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been declared the Democratic nominee. Despite mounting pressure to surrender the race, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has signaled that he will continue to campaign (video below).
On June 7, Clinton won the California, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota primary contests, while Sanders prevailed in Montana and South Dakota. Clinton now has 2,184 pledged delegates to Sanders' 1,804.
Figuring in superdelegates, Clinton has easily surpassed the threshold for being declared the Democratic nominee, with Washington D.C. being the only remaining primary contest.
Capping the evening off with a rally in Santa Monica, California, Sanders told his supporters that his campaign would press on to Washington D.C. and hinted that he may remain in the race through the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia in July, NBC News reports.
“We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C.,” Sanders told his supporters. “And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental just to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Sanders then added, “The struggle continues.”
The Vermont senator indicated that he was aware that Clinton had an overwhelming higher total of delegates but still appeared committed to persuading superdelegates to flip to his side leading up to the convention.
“I am pretty good at arithmetic and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight,” Sanders continued. “But we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get.”
Sanders pointed out how his campaign had grown from a largely dismissed fringe movement into a full-blown political force and thanked his supporters “for being part of a political revolution.”
Sanders appeared unready to end the revolution and many of his supporters at the rally voiced frustration that Clinton had won. As the results from California were screened before the crowd, they loudly booed and called fraud on Clinton’s high numbers.
“She’s clearly bought and stolen her way to the top — and she’s been with the establishment a really long time,” Sanders supporter Jennifer Hernandez told CNN. “She’s been their nominee from the beginning, which was very unfair for Bernie.”
While Sanders and his supporters may not be ready to fold, Democratic party leaders are growing increasingly impatient with the senator’s persistent march toward the convention.
“I think he should stand down now,” Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida told NPR. “I believe he is uniquely positioned to be able to be a unifier.”
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California added that Sanders could hurt his own political power if he refuses to drop out after the Washington D.C. primary.
“It all depends on what he does now,” Feinstein said. “It all depends if he is willing to be a team player and willing to come together, and help the party move on and not create a problem.”
Even Sanders’ allies in Congress want him to gracefully withdraw now instead of instigating a chaotic convention. The only senator who has officially endorsed Sanders, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, believes that the battle is over.
“Once a candidate has won a majority of the pledged delegates and a majority of the popular vote, which Secretary Clinton has now done, we have our nominee,” Merkley told the Washington Post.
The senator added that Sanders’ proposed strategy of persuading superdelegates to defect from Clinton was foolish.
“I would not support a battle that involves trying to flip superdelegates,” Merkley said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. and Sanders endorser Raul Grijalva of Arizona predicted that Sanders would withdraw soon.
“The reality is unattainable at some point,” Grijalva said. “You deal with that. Bernie is going to deal with this much more rapidly than you think… He’s gonna do the right thing.”
The Sanders campaign will lay off half of its staff on June 8, The New York Times reports.
Sanders is scheduled to privately meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on June 9.