A day after losing four out of five East Coast primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told the New York Times that he would lay off “hundreds” of presidential campaign staffers and turn his attention to winning California.
“We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country,” Sanders told the Times’ Yamiche Alcindor. “Forty of the states are now behind us.”
The campaign will move many of its remaining employees to California, where the candidate said he planned to hold rallies for “hundreds of thousands” of people. California, which awards 546 Democratic delegates, does not vote until June 7.
Sanders foreshadowed a shift in strategy Tuesday night after winning only Rhode Island and losing Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. He said in a statement at the time that, while he would remain in the race “until the last vote is cast,” he would shift his focus to fighting for a “progressive platform” at the Democratic National Convention.
Speaking Wednesday to the Times, he suggested that the staff cuts might not be permanent, should his fortunes turn.
“If we win this, every one of those great people who have helped us get this far, they will be rehired,” Sanders said. “But right now, we have to use all of the resources we have and focus them on the remaining states.”
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs downplayed the development later Wednesday in written statement, noting that 80 percent of the Democratic primaries and caucuses were in the campaign’s rearview mirror.
“We look forward to winning here in Indiana next Tuesday and in the few remaining states and territories holding primaries and caucuses in May and June,” Briggs wrote. “That means that we no longer require many of the loyal and dedicated state and national support staffers who helped us in places like New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and other states where the nominating contests have been completed.”
According to Briggs, more than 300 workers would remain on the payroll. He did not say precisely how many staffers would be let go.
“This campaign believes that we have a path toward victory and we’re going to marshal our resources to do everything we can to win the Democratic nomination,” he said.