Bernie Sanders prepares for the long haul

The Takeaway
Bernie Sanders

The much-talked about ad from Bernie Sanders is a visual montage set to Simon & Garfunkel's "America."

Phil Roeder/Flickr

Bernie Sanders added to his delegate count on Tuesday night, but he ultimately lost to Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. The Democratic candidates are currently tied in Missouri.

What does the future of the 2016 election hold for the senator from Vermont? The Sanders camp raised $42 million in February alone, and his team believes he still has a future on the campaign trail, according to Symone Sanders, press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ campaign (no relation).

“If we let the pundits and the talking heads tell us how to run this campaign, we would’ve gotten out of this race on day three,” says Ms. Sanders. “Senator Sanders is in this to win this. There is a path to the nomination, and that’s what we intend to do — we’re not going to do Secretary Clinton any favors.”

Though he’s down overall, Ms. Sanders says the Bernie camp is looking toward Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state, where voters will cast their ballots next week.

“We knew that the early map favored Secretary Clinton, and we expect that last night was the high-water mark for her delegate lead,” Ms. Sanders says. “We’re still in this, and this is going to be a very long nominating contest.”

Ms. Sanders says that the senator will start “racking up real wins” in the next phase of the nominating contest.

“The fight is going to roll on,” she says.

Last week, Sanders stunned when he won the state of Michigan. It seems that team Bernie was hoping to replicate its upset in the Great Lakes State last night in nearby Illinois. Senator Sanders tried to link Clinton to Chicago’s unpopular mayor last weekend.

“Hillary Clinton proudly lists Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of her leading mayoral endorsers,” Senator Sanders said at a Saturday press conference. “Well, let me be as clear as I can be: Based on his disastrous record as mayor of the city of Chicago, I do not want Mayor Emanuel’s endorsement if I win the Democratic nomination. That is not the kind of support I want. We want the endorsement of the people who are fighting for social and racial justice.”

With that last statement, Senator Sanders was alluding to a number of issues facing Emanuel’s office. First, Emanuel has come under fire for his handling of the LaQuan McDonald case. Back in 2014, officers shot 17-year-old McDonald more than a dozen times in just 15 seconds. Some allege that Emanuel kept the footage hidden from public view so he could win his re-election campaign in February 2015.

“Senator Sanders has said that from the moment that the tapes became available in the LaQuan McDonald investigation that anyone that knew about the tapes and actively worked to suppress them, any elected official, should be held accountable,” says Ms. Sanders. “He did not come out against Rahm Emanuel to bolster himself in this race. Senator Sanders was merely standing on the right side of the issue.”

Senator Sanders also hit Emanuel over the weekend for his handling of the financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.

“I don't want the endorsement of a mayor who is shutting down schools and firing teachers,” he said.

“The struggle for equity in Chicago Public Schools is a real issue,” says Ms. Sanders. “Those are the things Senator Sanders was talking about — the need to make sure we hold our elected officials and our police departments accountable to make sure they’re working on behalf of the people. These are real issues, especially in Chicago.”

As the nation watches the 2016 election and the fight for the Supreme Court march forward, the Sanders camp believes they are the only option for Americans seeking a more balanced society.

“We cannot afford to lose the general election,” Ms. Sanders says. “If Democrats would like to keep the White House in 2016, 2017 and 2018, you have to vote for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is the most electable candidate in this race on the Democratic side. He beats Donald Trump and Senator Cruz by a larger margin than Secretary Clinton. That argument of electability it is important, and Senator Sanders is the most electable Democrat in this race.”

This story first aired as an interview on PRI's The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation.