The day after a nearly 50-point drubbing in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who labored unsuccessfully for weeks to win over the state’s African-American electorate, had no choice but to face the music.
“We got decimated. The only positive thing for us is we won the … the 29 years of age and younger vote. And that was good. But we got killed,” the 74-year-old said Sunday during an interview with ABC’s This Week.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steamrolled Sanders by virtually every available metric, winning the black vote 87 percent to 13 percent, and every single county in the Palmetto State on the way to her 73 percent to 26 percent rout of the self-described democratic-socialist.
"Tomorrow, this campaign goes national," Clinton said during her victory speech Saturday night, signaling a new phase of the nomination contest with a promise to “make America whole again,” a play on Republican Donald Trump’s oft-repeated slogan to “Make America Great Again.”
There’s no time to rest for Sanders, who didn’t stick around for the polls to close in South Carolina; he must immediately pivot to Super Tuesday, when 11 states go to the polls.
His campaign’s deep coffers and fundraising apparatus ensures that Sanders will continue to seek the Democratic nomination well past this week, but he must win several of the Super Tuesday states, and make a strong showing in the others, if he hopes to keep neck-and-neck with Clinton in the race for delegates, something he’s acutely aware of.
“On Tuesday, we're going to have over 800 delegates being selected. I think we're going to win a very good share of those delegates,” Sanders said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Clinton holds double-digit leads in Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, according to a spate of NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls released Sunday.
But Sanders believes he can win Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont. He’s also made clear he intends to keep his campaign going all the way to the Democratic Convention in July.
“You're going to see us much better in New York State, where I think we have a shot to win, in California and in Michigan,” he said on ABC. New York’s primary doesn’t take place until Apr.19; California is on June 7.
And it’s clear that Sanders’ supporters aren’t ready to throw in the towel, either. In fact, the day after his southern thumping, he picked up a surprise endorsement.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI), a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, resigned her leadership post and gave her support to Sanders.
"I think it’s most important for us, as we look at our choices as to who our next commander-in-chief will be, is to recognize the necessity to have a commander-in-chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, who looks beyond the consequences, looks at the consequences of the actions they're looking to take, before they take those actions, so we don't continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life," Gabbard said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
The endorsement by the 34-year-old Gabbard – the first American Samoan and Hindu in Congress and a major in the Army National Guard who served in Iraq – came on the same day that the first of a two-part series in The New York Times detailed Clinton’s critical role in pushing President Obama to intervene in Libya.
Gabbard is the fourth member of Congress to endorse Sanders and her resignation is another sign of the discontent that has roiled the DNC under the leadership of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has been accused of tilting the presidential primary and debate calendar to favor Clinton. The pair clashed last year when Gabbard said she had been “disinvited” from a presidential debate after she pushed for more debates to be held.
In a statement, the DNC chair thanked Gabbard for her service and called her a “role model.”