Bernie Sanders on Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of his bid for the White House by vowing that the Democratic convention will be "contested," despite Hillary Clinton's wide lead in pledged and overall delegates.
"It's virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14 with pledged delegates alone," the Vermont senator told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.
The convention will be held in Philadelphia in July, after the final nominating contest in Washington, D.C., on June 14.
"The evidence is extremely clear that I would be the stronger candidate to defeat Trump or any other Republican," Sanders said of the Republican front-runner Donald Trump. He cited several polls showing him doing better than Clinton in a hypothetical head-to-head contest against the real estate magnate.
Still, it would be "an uphill climb" to win the nomination, Sanders said. His campaign on Sunday reported a decline in fundraising for April, to $26 million from $46 million in March, as Clinton won primary elections in such populous states as New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The Bloomberg Politics delegate tracker shows Clinton with 2,156 delegates, including 520 super delegates, while Sanders has 1,357 delegates, 39 of whom are super delegates. A candidate needs 2,383 delegates to clinch.
Sanders predicted a strong showing in Indiana's Democratic primary on Tuesday. Opinion polls show Clinton holding a lead in there, 50 percent to 44 percent, according to an average compiled by RealClearPolitics.
Clinton campaign officials declined to respond to Sanders's comments.
Calling for reform of the Democratic Party's nominating process, Sanders said he felt "entitled" to support from superdelegates in states whose nominating contests he won, such as Washington state and Minnesota. The same should also be true for Clinton, he said: superdelegates should cast their votes "in line with the people of their states."
Many superdelegates—party leaders and elected officials not formally bound to any candidate—committed to Clinton before the 2016 campaign formally started. Sanders said they should reconsider that support in states where he defeated Clinton by a large margin, and if he did very well in the remaining contests, which include California and New Jersey on June 7.
“If, and that’s an if, I admit, if that scenario plays out, yeah I do think a lot of superdelegates will say ‘You know what’s most important? It is most important that we defeat Donald Trump in November,” he said.
Sanders said Trump will fail in any attempt to reach out to his supporters, who so far have cast 8.9 million votes for the self-described democratic socialist. (Clinton leads all 2016 candidates with 12.1 million primary and caucus votes so far.)
Trump said on MSNBC on April 27 that Sanders "has a message that's interesting. I'm going to be taking a lot of the things Bernie said and using them." He's also suggested that Sanders should consider a third-party bid.
If Clinton secures the nomination Sanders vowed to "work as hard as I can" to make sure Trump or another Republican doesn't win. Trump has "managed to manipulate the media in an unprecedented way," he added.
As Sanders's chances of surpassing Clinton in pledged delegates have narrowed, he’s faced pressure from some Democrats to shift his focus from winning to nomination to uniting the party and promoting his key issues. On Sunday Sanders said he wasn't interested in a legacy of having merely influenced the debate.
“I hope my legacy will be that I was a very good president of the United States,” he said.