2016 US Elections – Democratic Primary: Clinton Campaign Disputes Sanders Momentum

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March 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton's front-running presidential campaign is disputing arguments from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic nomination, that he is riding a wave of momentum and is a realistic challenger.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on March 28.

March 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton's front-running presidential campaign is disputing arguments from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic nomination, that he is riding a wave of momentum and is a realistic challenger.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on March 28.

Joel Benenson, a Democratic pollster and Clinton's chief strategist, told a conference call of reporters Monday that Clinton has a "nearly insurmountable lead" in pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. In addition, Clinton leads overwhelmingly among "super delegates" – elected officials and party activists who will vote at the convention but are not formally bound to any specific candidate. Sanders needs 56 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to overtake Clinton and win the Democratic nomination, Benenson said, adding that it is extremely unlikely for him to do this.

He said there is no "credible case of how they [Sanders and his allies] have a path to win."

Clinton has 1,243 nominating delegates pledged to her, compared with Sanders' 975, according to the Associated Press. When super delegates are added, Clinton has 1,712 to Sanders' 1,004. It will take 2,383 to win the nomination.

The next big contests are in Wisconsin April 5 and New York April 19.

Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Sanders, said in a separate call with reporters Monday that Clinton is a "weak front-runner" and predicted more super delegates will eventually shift toward Sanders.

Sanders supporters also argue that his victories last Saturday in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state show that he is gaining momentum.

Benenson complained that Sanders has been increasingly negative toward Clinton and cast doubt that there would be another Democratic debate before the crucial New York primary next month unless Sanders changes his tone. New York will be important because it is a mega-state and because both Clinton and Sanders have roots there, Clinton as a U.S. senator and Sanders as someone who grew up in the state and retains a New York accent.

Benenson also said Clinton would be the strongest candidate in the general election. Asked by U.S. News how seriously he takes the prospects of Republican front runner Donald Trump, Benenson said Clinton has out-polled Trump by 1 million votes so far in the primaries and caucuses and is leading Trump in national polls.

"She has been vetted … and her strength is clear," Benenson said.

He argued that Trump's nomination by the Republicans would put more states in play for Clinton than for Trump compared with the 2012 and 2008 elections, which Democrat Barack Obama won handily. Benenson is Obama's former chief pollster.


Courtesy: U.S. News & World Report