WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders made a pitch to win over Democratic superdelegates Sunday by arguing that polls show he is a stronger candidate than front-runner Hillary Clinton in the November presidential election against Donald Trump or any other Republican.
Acknowledging that he faces an uphill battle, Sanders, the independent Vermont senator, vowed to continue his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination through the final 10 state primaries with an eye on winning the biggest, California.
“I think the evidence is extremely clear that I would be the better candidate,” Sanders said, citing polls that show him with a bigger margin of victory over Trump, ranging from 4 points to 11 points nationally, and also in swing states that could go Democratic or Republican.
Sanders also said he would expect to see a bigger turnout of Democrats if he’s the nominee because his campaign has created more energy and excitement — and that will help Democrats running for Congress.
Sanders made his argument at a news conference at the National Press Club here on the same day his campaign said it had raised $25.8 million in April, a significant drop from the $44.7 million raised in March and $43.3 million in February.
That campaign funding announcement followed Sanders’ revelation last week that he’s laying off about 255 workers to focus resources on the remaining contests.
Clinton’s campaign did not respond to queries.
But in an interview taped Friday and aired Sunday by CNN, Clinton said, “I consider myself as someone who’s on the path, and obviously I’m very far ahead in both the popular vote and the delegate count, so I think the path leads to the nomination. But, you know, I’m going to keep competing.”
Clinton is just 218 delegates short of winning the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, according to The Associated Press. Sanders needs 1,026 more delegates.
Key to the race are so-called superdelegates, mostly party officials who do not have to follow the winner of Democratic primaries or caucuses in their states. Clinton has a commanding lead of 520 superdelegates to Sanders’ 39.
The other delegates are chosen in primaries or caucuses and are pledged to back one candidate or the other.
“For us to win the majority of pledged delegates, we need to win 710 of the remaining 1,083. That is 65 percent of the remaining pledged delegates. That is admittedly a tough road to climb, but it’s not an impossible road to climb,” Sanders said.
Sanders argued that superdelegates should follow the Democratic votes in their states, especially in contests where he won big majorities. In New Hampshire, for example, he won with 60 percent, but all six superdelegates back Clinton.
Sanders also marked a year since he launched his campaign, recalling how at first he was written off as a “fringe candidate” with no organization and no money who trailed Clinton by 60 points or more in most polls.
Now, Sanders said, he has won 17 primaries and caucuses, raised $220 million in small donations and brought out millions of new voters, especially those who are under 45 years old.