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Bernie Sanders Looks To Maintain Momentum As 5 More States Vote


Another big primary day is here. Five states and one U.S. territory are voting today for their nominee for president. Four candidates remain in the Republican field. We'll get to them later in the program. Democrats are choosing between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. NPR's Tamara Keith and Sam Sanders have spent the last few days with the Democratic candidates, and they both join us now - good to have you both here.


SHAPIRO: Let's start...

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Glad to be here.

SHAPIRO: ...With you, Sam. Bernie Sanders pulled off a surprising upset last Tuesday with the win in Michigan. How is he hoping to capitalize on that win tonight?

SANDERS: So he's pushing a message that worked there in Michigan, this appeal to working-class white voters on trade. He directly blames global trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and the TPP for millions of job losses throughout the Midwest.

SHAPIRO: He wants that message to take hold in states that seem similar to Michigan that are...

SANDERS: Exactly.

SHAPIRO: ...Voting tonight.

SANDERS: Yes, states like Ohio, to a certain extent, Missouri, as well.

SHAPIRO: He's also had some pretty harsh words for Donald Trump lately.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, there's been this back and forth between him an Trump since Friday after Trump's Chicago rally was canceled due to protesters. Some of those protesters had signs with Sanders' name. Some were chanting Bernie. So Trump says that Sanders sent them, and Sanders says that he did not do that and that Trump's a liar.

So they're in that back-and-forth, and Sanders has also been hitting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel very hard as well. He's been under fire for his handling of police brutality for months now, and the thought is that Sanders can use that to appeal to black voters.

SHAPIRO: Sam, hang on for a second. We're going to turn to Tamara Keith who is in Florida with the Clinton campaign. And Tam, how are people feeling down there today?

KEITH: Well, they think that there's a very real chance that Hillary Clinton could lose in some of these states in the Midwest. And it's not clear how many of those states it would be - maybe one or maybe all three. It's also not clear whether they're doing that lowering of expectations thing.

Clinton was campaigning today in North Carolina, and she spoke briefly with reporters. And one idea that she kept coming back to in this conversation was that people actually need to go out and vote, which is a very Bernie Sanders thing to say, that it's all about turnout. But Clinton seems concerned that these public polls in basically every state show her up by a big margin, and she's worried that her supporters may think that she has it locked up and that they won't vote for her. They just won't vote, maybe. She, in talking to us, made it very clear that she wants to turn her attention to the Republicans - one particular Republican, Donald J. Trump.


HILLARY CLINTON: I'm going to keep working as hard as I can, but I think it is important that we really do focus on the very dangerous path that Donald Trump has laid out here. The kind of bluster and bigotry and bullying that he's exemplifying on the campaign trail is disturbing.

KEITH: And I have to say she's talking more about Trump these days than she is about her primary opponent, Bertie Sanders. Today, I think the only thing she said about him was that she was very proud of the kind of campaign that they've both been running.

SHAPIRO: Now, so far in the states that have voted, we have seen Hillary Clinton perform really well, especially among African-American and older voters. How does that affect states like Florida and North Carolina that are voting today that have large African-American and large elderly populations?

KEITH: Yeah. In Florida, 19 percent of the population is over 65 years old according to the latest census data. That is a much higher number than the U.S. average, and older people go big for Hillary Clinton. So do African-Americans, which are a large share of the population in both Florida and North Carolina. She's hoping, expecting to do quite well in those states and actually expects that she could gain a large number of delegates in Florida that would help offset some of those potential Midwestern losses in terms of delegates.

SHAPIRO: Potential Midwestern losses - Sam Sanders, as we look up north to Ohio, Illinois, also to Missouri, what do the demographics mean for Bernie Sanders there?

SANDERS: Yeah, I mean, so those states have a lower proportion of black voters, and that helps Sanders. He has been doing a bit better with black voters. He got about 30 percent of that vote in Michigan, so his trade message may have worked there. But he still does his best, and his core seems to come from working class white voters, white men, also younger voters.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Sam Sanders and NPR's Tamara Keith also covering the Democratic candidates. We'll hear from the Republicans elsewhere in the show. Thanks to both of you.

KEITH: You're welcome, Ari.

SANDERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

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