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Sanders to Lay Off Staff, Focus on California

The staff moves come one day after the Vermont senator fell further behind Clinton in the delegate race.

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Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that he would soon be laying off “hundreds” of paid staffers to his presidential campaign and redirect his remaining resources to California. 

“We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around country,” Sanders said in an interview with the New York Times. “We don’t need people right now in Connecticut. That election is over. We don’t need them in Maryland. So what we are going to do is allocate our resources to the 14 contests that remain, and that means that we are going to be cutting back on staff.”

The layoffs are “primarily field centered” along with national support for those field people, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told Bloomberg Politics.

Weaver emphasized that the campaign is fully staffed in the field in the states that have yet to vote. The campaign plans to have 60 or 70 staffers on the ground in California when that state votes on June 7.

“The field people who were in the five states from yesterday, there's no other place for them to go, you know what I mean?” he said.

“This is not an unusual process,” he said. “At one point we had twice as many staffers as we do now. When we were competing in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and all the March 1 states we had a thousand staffers.”

In a statement, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the campaign would continue to have a staff of “more than 300” heading into California and the remaining primaries. 

“This campaign believes that we have a path toward victory and we're going to marshal our resources to do everything we can to win the Democratic nomination,” Briggs said. 

The move comes one day after Sanders' latest campaign setback. The Vermont senator lost four of Tuesday's five Democratic presidential primaries to front-runner Hillary Clinton, and fell further behind in the delegate race to secure the nomination. 

Sanders told the Times that he would remain in the race through the Democratic party's national convention in Philadelphia in late July, but that “hundreds of staff members” would be let go in the near future. After Tuesday night's results, Sanders trails Clinton by 813 delegates, including superdelegates, with just 1,276 delegates yet to be awarded. Assuming no superdelegates walk back their commitment to support Clinton at the convention, the former secretary of state needs to pick up just 232 more delegates to secure the nomination. 

Sanders said he would move staff members to California, where he hopes to score a final big win on June 7. 

“If we win this, every one of those great people who have helped us get this far, they will be rehired,” Sanders told the Times. “But right now, we have to use all of the resources we have and focus them on the remaining states.”

Weaver said the campaign was conceding nothing.  

“The road has always been a hard road. It was never harder than the day Bernie announced,” he said. “Every state coming up is going to have staff in it.”

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