RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Bernie Sanders ends this primary season in second place. Though, as NPR's Sam Sanders reports, you would not know it listening to his supporters or the candidate himself.
SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: It was really hard to find anyone saying he lost. In the crowd at Bernie Sanders' rally last night in Santa Monica, Calif. - and all day Tuesday, actually - as Sanders block-walked and greeted thousands on Hollywood Boulevard and at coffee shops and the farmer's market in Silver Lake. If you just saw those scenes and not the news, you could've thought Sanders had just been declared the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee. And last night, lots of his supporters rejected the idea that Hillary Clinton had won the nomination.
So it's not over yet?
DALLAS FOWLER: No, it's not. It's not until it's over.
S. SANDERS: I talked with Dallas Fowler at the Sanders rally. She is actually a delegate to the Democratic convention in July.
When is over for you?
FOWLER: Over for me is on July 25, when we have our final vote.
S. SANDERS: At the convention. Fowler did say that ultimately, whatever happens, Sanders has kind of won already.
FOWLER: It is what is. You just have to push forward. But the real win of the Senator Sanders campaign is that he has left a message and a legacy that is not going to die.
S. SANDERS: Dutch Merrick says no matter what Hillary Clinton said in her victory speech Tuesday night, and no matter what the delegate count said, Sanders should stay in the race.
DUTCH MERRICK: What would be the point of Bernie dropping out? Hillary's been giving victory speeches for nine months, so this is nothing new. She's had the mindset that it's already in the bag. And that speaks to a rigged system.
S. SANDERS: Several others in the crowd even told me that the Associated Press count of Democratic delegates before every state and the superdelegates had voted was improper. I asked Dutch Merrick what he would do if Bernie didn't become the nominee.
MERRICK: I would probably vote for Trump to finally pop the zit, and we all come to the bottom line that it's going to be a revolution or a sea change in the way we do things.
S. SANDERS: Once Bernie Sanders hit the stage, he gave the crowd the message they were looking for. He said he wasn't done yet.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BERNIE SANDERS: Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C.
B. SANDERS: And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia, Pa.
S. SANDERS: It was hard for me to find anyone saying Bernie Sanders lost last night, especially Bernie Sanders himself. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Santa Monica. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.