WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders failed Sunday to explain the logic behind his analysis that he was losing to Hillary Clinton because “poor people don’t vote” when confronted with the fact that the poorest voters support her, according to exit polls. He also said his remaining path to win the nomination is not easy.
Sanders had said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was trailing Clinton for the nomination because “poor people don’t vote. I mean, that’s just a fact. That’s a sad reality of American society. And that’s what we have to transform.”
But when CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that exit polls show Clinton wins 55% of voters making less than $50,000 to Sanders’ 44%, Sanders pivoted his argument.
“One of the reasons I am running for president of the United States is to try to revitalize American Democracy. It is not a secret that we have one of the lowest voting turnout rates of any major country on Earth,” Sanders told Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday. “And it is also true that in the last general election we had in 2014, 63% of the American people didn’t vote. And the numbers were worse for low-income people and the numbers were worse for young people.”
Sanders added that he’s surprised at how well he’s done so far in his campaign.
“You know Jake, if you and I were talking 11 (or) 11-and-a-half months ago, you would not have believed that we would be here, where we are right now,” he said. “We have won 16 states at this point and that we’re running very close to Secretary Clinton in the general election matchups, and in fact we’re beating Trump by rather large numbers.”
Asked directly if there was any chance he could win the nomination, Sanders said there was.
“I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, but I think we do,” Sanders said. “What polls seem to be showing is that many of the states yet to come, including California, our largest state we have a real shot to win.”
He also declined to condemn comments by his surrogate, Rosario Dawson, who said Saturday she stands with Monica Lewinsky’s fight against bullying and suggested that the Clinton campaign is engaging in such behavior.
Sanders on Sunday defended Dawson’s overall speech but declined specific comment on the Lewinsky reference.
“We are literally under attack for not just supporting the other candidate. Now I’m with Monica Lewinsky with this: Bullying is bad. She’s actually dedicated her life now to talking about that,” Dawson had said, before introducing the Vermont senator on-stage at a rally.
She added: “And now as a campaign strategy, we are being bullied and somehow that is OK and not being talked about with the richness that it needs to (be).”
Sanders, when asked by Tapper about it, called Dawson a great actress and said: “She’s doing a great job for us.”
“She’s been a passionate fighter to see that we increase the voter turnout, that we fight for racial, economic, environmental justice,” he said.
But when pressed by Tapper if it was OK for her to bring up Lewinsky, Sanders said: “I have no idea in what context Rosario was talking about her. But I would hope that all of our people would focus on the real issues facing working people and the massive level of wealth and income inequality.”