Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is putting one strategic message front and center as he moves forward in his primary battle with Hillary Clinton: that he is the candidate who can defeat Donald Trump.
After Clinton’s weekend win in the Nevada caucuses, Sanders told a rally in Greenville, S.C., on Sunday that “there would be nothing that would give me greater pleasure than in fact beating Donald Trump.”
“This is a campaign that has the momentum not only in the Democratic Party primary process but if you want a candidate who is going to defeat Donald Trump, you’re looking at him,” Sanders said.
His campaign points to a Quinnipiac poll released last Thursday that shows Sanders over Trump 48-42 percent.
The self-described democratic socialist also leads Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) 49-39 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) 47-41 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich 45-41 percent.
Clinton, meanwhile, had 44 percent to Trump’s 43 percent, 43 percent to Cruz’s 46 percent, and just 41 percent to Rubio’s 48 percent. Kasich beat Clinton 47-39 percent.
If Michael Bloomberg decided to jump into the race as an independent, that would hurt Sanders more, putting him in a tie with Trump and shaving his lead over Cruz to 6 points.
Sanders vowed on NBC Sunday that “we are in this race to the convention.”
He and Clinton are currently tied in delegates won in each of the state contests, but she trumps the senator on superdelegate count.
“I think we have a good shot in Colorado, a good shot in Minnesota, a good shot in Massachusetts. I think we are looking pretty good in Oklahoma. The last poll I saw in my own state of Vermont had us at 80 percent. So I think we’ve got a shot to win there. And I think we will surprise people in some other states, as well,” Sanders said. “…We’re looking hard at Michigan. We think we have a pretty good shot in parts of Texas. So trust me, we are focusing very hard on trying to get as many delegates as we can.”
“I think we’ve got some states coming down the pike that we’re going to do very, very well in. I think, you know, if you look at national polling, our support is growing.”
Clinton, meanwhile, is launching fresh attacks on Sanders with a news conference today featuring South Carolina State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to “highlight Bernie Sanders’ poor record on guns.”
“As Sanders campaigns in Massachusetts, the leaders will highlight Sanders’ role in enacting PLCAA, which protects gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for gun crimes, as well as his vote to create the Charleston Loophole, which helped allow the Charleston shooter to get a gun,” the Clinton campaign said this morning.
Danny Glover is campaigning for Sanders in South Carolina, while Clinton touted the endorsement of former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.