Bernie Sanders continued to campaign in delegate-rich California on Monday, ahead of that state’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday, even after The Associated Press declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee.
And even though the candidate refused to acknowledge the news in a Monday night outdoor rally and concert with the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop, the entire night, something was a little off.
Walking up, you could hear people telling their friends, and themselves, that they knew Sanders was going to lose the nomination.
About an hour and a half before Sanders took the podium at Crissy Field, the AP declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee. But no one who took to the mic acknowledged this: none of the musical acts, including Dave Matthews. Not actor and Sanders surrogate Danny Glover. Not scholar and activist Cornel West.
And when former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner went to the mic to stump for Sanders, she implied that the call from the AP was meant to hurt the Sanders campaign.
“We will not relent,” Turner said to cheers. “We will fight on. And when the mainstream already calls the election … to suppress the vote in California, we will fight on!”
In a press conference Monday morning, Sanders said he’d keep campaigning after the California primary, until the final Democratic primary in Washington D.C., next week.
And when Sanders finally spoke at the San Francisco rally last night, he didn’t mention Hillary Clinton’s new delegate math once. His stump speech sounded a lot like the one he gave the day before, and the day before that.
Meanwhile, Sanders communications director Michael Briggs issued a short statement reacting to the AP’s naming Clinton the presumptive nominee.
“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” the statement read.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination,” the statement continued. “She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then. They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race.”
In the crowd Monday night, Sanders supporters like Genei Baker were making sense of Sanders’ presumptive loss, even if the Sanders campaign was reluctant to do so.
“It doesn’t matter,” Baker said, wearing a one-piece hooded jumpsuit she called a “Bernsie” (like a onesie). “Even if he doesn’t win, look at all the young people [here]. He’s gotten young people to vote. … That’s good!”
But the process has left Sanders supporters like Aaron Selverston disillusioned. For him, sitting on the grass as Dave Matthews played, the Democratic Party rules and the delegate math were rigged against Sanders.
“I think the whole argument about the math is irrelevant,” Selverston said. For Selverston, his allegiance is to Bernie Sanders, not the party or its rules.
“It’s not about allegiance to a party,” he said. “The party has failed half of the people who have voted Democratic, and those are the people who are supporting Bernie.” Selverston says he hopes that Sanders supporters and delegates take their fight to the Democratic convention in July.
Presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton may need votes like Selverston’s in November to defeat Donald Trump. But from the sound of things Monday night in San Francisco, earning those votes might be a heavy lift.