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National

Special Election Coverage: The Wisconsin Primary

Amanda Renteria, seen in 2008, is serving as Hillary Clinton's national political director.
Amanda Renteria, seen in 2008, is serving as Hillary Clinton's national political director.

Catch up with these interviews from NPR's Wisconsin primary night special coverage, hosted by Scott Detrow:

Amanda Renteria, national political director for Hillary Clinton

On Wisconsin

We've always known that Wisconsin was going to be an uphill battle. And we just know that it's not reflective of the Democratic base as a whole. You just don't have the larger numbers of African American, Latino communities ... and in addition, unions aren't quite as big as they used to be in Wisconsin either and that's really a coalition of support that we've built.

On why the math matters

We prefer to always win, of course. But at the end of the day, we've always viewed this as a marathon. And so as you look state by state, what you need to do is you need to win a pledged delegate vote. So we've been making sure that whatever we do, we are very close to the math always. And we're going to continue to do that. People used to make fun of us at the beginning of the campaign when I used to say, "Math is really important in this election. It's really important in the primary." And now when we look at pledged delegate counts of over 230 ... that's a big delegate lead. Bigger than Obama actually ever had in the Obama versus Clinton race in '08. So we feel very confident about where we stand on pledged delegates at the moment.

On what Clinton has learned

Becoming the first female nominee for president is not an easy task and no one expected it to be from the very beginning. And we've always had that as we've thought through our strategy, we've always had that front and center. Over time, we certainly learned and improved. As a candidate, she certainly has. We've learned what our base and our coalition is. Frankly, we feel incredibly proud about the coalition we have built ... We've been under no illusions from the beginning that this is a race for president and it shouldn't be easy and it should be earned.

Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Bernie Sanders

On momentum
It's going to take us all the way into June to catch the secretary in terms of pledged delegates but we have a path to do that and the senator has been not just winning these states but winning them with huge margins. In Alaska, he had 80 percent of the vote. In Washington state, he had almost 70 percent of the vote. So he's not only winning, but he's winning big.

Jeff Weaver, seen at the December presidential debate, is the campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeff Weaver, seen at the December presidential debate, is the campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On superdelegates and strategy
Most of the superdelegates are either elected officials or party insiders and what they are interested in is winning in November. And as we go along through this process this spring, what we are demonstrating more and more is that Sen. Sanders is a much more viable candidate in November ... And so as we get closer, I think you're going to see folks will take another look at the race.

On Independents
Democratic voters are only about a quarter of the population. So Democrats can't win without independent voters supporting the candidate for president and up and down the ballot. Sen. Sanders has shown that he can deliver Independent voters and the Secretary often gets less than 25 percent of Independent voters.

On an open convention
At this point, mathematically speaking, it is highly highly unlikely that either Sen. Sanders or Secretary Clinton will have a majority based purely on pledged delegates. And the superdelegates don't vote until you actually get into the convention process. So, there's been a lot of talk about how the Republicans are going into an open convention. Well, the truth of the matter is it looks like the Democrats are going into an open convention as well.

Kellyanne Conway, president of the Cruz superPAC Keep The Promise I

Kellyanne Conway, seen at the Freedom Summit in 2015, is the president of the Ted Cruz Super PAC "Keep The Promise I."
Rainier Ehrhardt / AP
Kellyanne Conway, seen at the Freedom Summit in 2015, is the president of the Ted Cruz Super PAC "Keep The Promise I."

On winning Wisconsin
Wisconsin represents a very important win for another reason. It's really the place where Cruz was able to consolidate the conservative and establishment components of the Republican Party. He is a rock-ribbed conservative. He's known as standing up on principle and standing up to both parties in Washington. And yet, he has five people who ran against him for president early in the cycle now endorsing him. That includes popular Gov. Scott Walker, 75-80 percent approval rating among Republicans in his state, the Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who's really a conservative hero nationwide and very popular in the state of Wisconsin. She voted for Ted Cruz. I just think it's an incredible important victory because it shows that retail politics still works.

On getting establishment endorsements
They came to him, he didn't come to them. I think the one-two punch of Trump and Cruz this year has shown the establishment it's flat on its back. That victory is already sealed. The establishment candidates are out of the race. The conservative and center-right issues have been brought to the floor. The fact is, they're coming to him.

Vin Weber, strategist for John Kasich

On the end game for Kasich

Vin Weber, seen in 2012, is a strategist for Gov. Kasich.
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Vin Weber, seen in 2012, is a strategist for Gov. Kasich.

He can keep fighting forward. Of course, we'd rather won. But the most important thing was — the party seems to have been in the mode of stopping perhaps the most destructive thing that could happen to the Republican Party in my adult lifetime, which is the nomination of Donald Trump. I think that that's just about to be stopped. He got knocked down badly tonight. He's not going to go to the convention with the majority of the delegates. Ted Cruz has been the main beneficiary of that dynamic. But we still now have to figure out a nominee that can actually hope to win the election. And that's John Kasich. All the polls show that he is by far the strongest Republican nominee against Hillary Clinton, shows that he would beat Hillary Clinton, he can unite the party. We're going to go to an open convention and we're going to decide among the candidates and Kasich has a strong argument to make.

On an open convention

The primary and caucus process is not going to yield us a nominee. In order to do that, they would have to give 1,237 delegates to one of the candidates. That's not going to happen. So we have the second round of this where the convention has to sit down and say ... who should we choose? Often, that would be the person who had the most delegates. But in this case, the person with the most delegates — not a majority, but the most — is Donald Trump, who is the most divisive figure of the party. He cannot possibly unite the party. He cannot possibly win the general election. And so the delegates are going to sit down and say, who can we nominate who can unite this party and win and John Kasich has the best argument to put in front of them.

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