Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing reporters at his campaign headquarters in Burlington
A day after his disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) projected confidence that he could defeat the newly minted frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, former vice president Joe Biden.
"I have every reason to believe that we're gonna win this thing," Sanders told reporters during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at his Church Street campaign office in downtown Burlington.
According to an NBC News projection, Biden won at least 458 delegates in the 15 contests held Wednesday, increasing his total to 511. Sanders collected 399, bringing his total to 459. Those numbers are expected to rise as more results are tallied, particularly in California, where Sanders outperformed Biden.
"Now I haven't seen the latest delegate count, but my guess is that after California is thrown into the hopper, it's going to be pretty close," Sanders said. "We may be up by a few. Biden maybe be up by a few. But I think we go forward basically neck and neck."
Sanders devoted most of his prepared remarks to contrasting his record with that of his chief opponent. "Joe Biden is somebody I have known for many years. I like Joe. I think he's a very decent human being," the senator said. "Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country — and Joe and I are running very different campaigns."
Sanders repeated the refrain that "Joe is going to have to explain" his views on various issues, including his support for entitlement reform, free trade, the 2008 Wall Street bailout and the Iraq War. He called for "a serious debate on the serious issues of our time," proposing an hourlong debate focused on universal healthcare, and said he hoped that the campaign would not "degenerate into a Trump-type effort where we're attacking each other [with] personal attacks."
Sen. Bernie Sanders
After losing her home state and winning just 39 delegates on Tuesday, according to NBC's projections, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was reassessing her campaign, advisers said Wednesday. Sanders confirmed that he had spoken to her earlier in the day, though he was careful not to divulge much about their conversation. He declined to say whether he had asked for her support.
"She has not made any decisions at this point, and it is important, I think, for all of us, certainly me, who has known Elizabeth Warren for many, many years, to respect the time and the space that she needs to make her decision," he said, later adding, "She has run a strong campaign. She will make her own decision in her own time."
Asked about former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to drop out of the race and endorse Biden, Sanders claimed that he hadn't heard the news. "Has he dropped out?" he asked a reporter. "Well, it's the first I've heard about it." Sanders joked that television networks would be "very disappointed" by Bloomberg's withdrawal, given how much he had spent on TV ads.
Sanders said he continued to believe that whichever candidate arrived at the Democratic National Convention with the most pledged delegates should win the nomination. If another candidate won, he argued, "that would cause massive dismay [among] the American people." Sanders expressed a different view during his 2016 campaign, but on Wednesday he said he was "a little bit annoyed" that the media was "distorting" his past statements about the matter.
Though he mostly sounded bullish about his chances, Sanders conceded that he hadn't yet attracted sufficient support from African American voters and hadn't inspired enough young people to turn out at the polls.
Asked whether he was disappointed that he had yet to ignite the mass movement he often describes, Sanders said, "Well, look, of course I'm disappointed. I would like to win every state by a landslide. It's not gonna happen."