By Jason Lange
Fresh from Democratic presidential primary wins over the weekend in three US states, Bernie Sanders claims to have garnered the political momentum that he says could help him win the backing of Democratic power brokers in his race against Hillary Clinton.
Sanders easily won nominating contests in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii yesterday. His latest remarks reflect his plan to chip away at Clinton's commanding lead in the number of delegates needed to win the party's nomination.
Interviewed on Sunday by US broadcasters, Sanders said Democratic "super-delegates," who can change their allegiance, might rally behind him because some polls suggest he has a better chance than Clinton of beating a Republican candidate.
"Momentum is with us. A lot of these super-delegates may rethink their position with Hillary Clinton," the Vermont Senator Sanders told CNN.
About 85 percent of the votes at the July 25-28 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where a party nominee will be chosen to face the Republicans in the November 8 election, are being determined by state nominating contests.
The other 15 percent is held by party power brokers who are free to vote as they like, meaning they could hold the key in a tight contest. Super-delegates include party leaders and elected senators, members of the US Congress, and governors.
After Saturday's contests, the former secretary of state led Sanders by just under 300 pledged delegates in the race for the 2382 needed to be nominated. Adding in the support of super-delegates, Clinton had 1712 delegates to 1004 for Sanders, according to a tally by RealClearPolitics.com.
The US senator from Vermont needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, who will keep piling up delegates even when she loses under a Democratic Party system that awards them proportionally in all states.
Sanders said party leaders in states where he has won decisively will come under pressure to back him whether they have pledged to support Clinton or not.