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White Working-Class Voters In West Virginia Pick Sanders Over Clinton


There were no real surprises in yesterday's West Virginia and Nebraska primaries. Donald Trump, the last Republican candidate still in the race, won both. Hillary Clinton carried Nebraska and lost West Virginia to Bernie Sanders. Despite Clinton's huge delegate lead, Sanders is still in. So what's next for the senator from Vermont? Let's talk now to one of his big supporters, Charles Chamberlain of the advocacy group Democracy for America. Good morning.

CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Now, Bernie Sanders reacted to this win and has reacted in recent days by saying he's in until the last vote is counted. But - don't mind me being blunt, but why? Why is he still in the race?

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, first of all, there's no point in giving up when you haven't actually lost. The reality is that neither of these two candidates are going to go to the convention with enough pledged delegates to have secured it outright, meaning that superdelegates have to vote at the convention. And even while more of them are pledged to Hillary Clinton right now, there are still plenty available that could give the nomination to Bernie Sanders, should that be the outcome when we get there.

MONTAGNE: So the campaign is still thinking of a possibly contested convention?

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, look, I would say that it's a long shot. But we still have a shot to win the majority of the pledged delegates. It takes a huge victory in California. But as we raked up our 19th win last night, we've got wins coming up in Kentucky and Oregon. As we go into California and New Jersey, if we do well there, we could come out with the majority of the pledged delegates still. So I don't think that's off the table.

MONTAGNE: OK. But there are those who will say - and have been saying - that Bernie Sanders is hurting the chances of Hillary Clinton. Obviously, his supporters don't think that, but hers certainly do. And others have said this. What about that?

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, you know, Bernie is out there all the time talking about how we absolutely have to defeat Donald Trump. And there's no question that after our primary - you know, things get tough during the primary. But after our primary, you know, we can all come together. It happened in 2008. That was a bitter primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And yet, I think what we saw was we saw a really unified party moving forward after the convention. That's what's going to happen here.

MONTAGNE: It's going to happen, though, even if, in fact, it does turn out that in the coming weeks, his challenge to Hillary Clinton makes her look even worse in - if it comes to that, if she is the nominee.

CHAMBERLAIN: You know, I think it's really easy to feel that way, especially if you're a Clinton supporter - to feel like every one of these hits hurts. But I think the reality is is that a lot of the stuff that Bernie Sanders is talking about - this is not new. This is - you know, her vote for the Iraq War, some of her positions on trade deals - this is stuff that's going to be fought out in the general election, whether Bernie Sanders had brought it up or not.

And what's exciting about what we're doing right now is by having the argument happen on the Democratic side, we get to hear both of the Democratic positions on this issue. And we're keeping out sort of the Republican side of it. So actually, I would say that we're doing her a favor by keeping the fight in the Democratic Party for as long as possible before we have to really, you know, have to deal directly with Donald Trump.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, we'll have to leave it at that. Thanks very much for joining us.

CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Charles Chamberlain of the advocacy group Democracy for America, speaking to us from Burlington, Vt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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