Bernie Sanders is feeling confident again after wins in the Alaska, Hawaii and Washington primaries over Easter weekend brought the Vermont senator's presidential campaign back into contention. So confident is Sanders that the candidate is calling on Hillary Clinton to debate him in a state where she twice was elected to the Senate. Will the Democratic front-runner meet the challenge?
Making the rounds on the Sunday-morning political talk shows after his big victories Saturday, Sanders expressed concern that Clinton, who currently holds a large lead in the delegate count, might elect not to hold further debates. That lack of visibility could make it almost impossible for Sanders to mount a comeback in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders specifically challenged Clinton to debate him in New York, a state where Clinton served as senator from 2001 to 2009.
"I certainly would like to see a debate in New York state," Sanders told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," adding he would agree to a debate in “New York City, upstate, wherever, on the important issues facing New York and, in fact, the country.”
It is not surprising that Sanders is in a New York state of mind. In the April 19 primary there are 247 delegates at stake. While the delegates in the primary are allocated proportionally, a decisive win in the state could either bring Sanders near even with (or even ahead of) Clinton, while a Clinton win would effectively end Sanders chances of winning the nomination. Clinton currently holds double-digit leads in the latest polls of likely voters in the state. Sanders hopes a debate in the state could turn those numbers around.
After the Alaska, Hawaii and Washington primaries, Sanders is slowly catching up in the pledged-delegate count. Clinton is in the lead with 1,243 delegates, while Sanders trails with 975 delegates. However, when superdelegates are factored in, Clinton's lead grows substantially. The former secretary of state has 1,712 delegates counting superdelegates to Sanders' 1,004. Sanders, though, is confident he can turn that around too.
"A lot of the superdelegates are beginning to look at which Democratic candidate is in the best position to beat [Republican front-runner] Donald Trump," Sanders told Todd. "We have a path to victory. We are going to win this nomination process... What we showed yesterday is the momentum is with us."