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Sanders hopes to lure superdelegates with electability argument

Could there be a contested convention for Democrats?

The following is a rush transcript of a portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Bernie Sanders on March 17, 2016. The full interview can be viewed in two parts: Part 1   Part 2.

MADDOW: I wonder if you can imagine a scenario which you’re still behind secretary Clinton in terms of delegates. But you went all the way to the convention this summer and tried to make a case for yourself by basically persuading the super delegates to support you instead of her. Is that something you could imagine doing?

SANDERS:  Well here’s the scenario. Secretary Clinton has done phenomenally well in the deep south and she has picked up a whole lot of delegates there. We are now moving beyond the south. We are moving west where we think the terrain favors us. West coast is probably the most progressive region of the united states of America.  We think we have a good shot, can’t guarantee it, of winning a whole lot of states of winning a whole lot of delegates.  Of perhaps winning California, the state of Washington, Oregon, many of the smaller states, and winning new York state.

We think if we come into the convention in July in  Philadelphia having won a whole lot of delegates, having a whole lot of momentum behind us, and most importantly perhaps being the candidate who is most likely to defeat Donald Trump. We think some of these super delegates who have now supported Hillary Clinton can come over to us. Rachel in almost every poll not every poll but almost every national match up poll between sanders and trump, Clinton and trump we do better than Hillary Clinton and sometimes by large numbers. We get a lot more of the independent vote than she gets, and frankly, and very honestly, I think I am a stronger candidate to defeat Trump than Secretary Clinton is and I think many sec—many of the super delegates understand that.

MADDOW: I just want to be super clear with you about that just to make sure that I understand. Are you saying that even if you were behind in pledged delegates—I know you think you won’t be—but if you were behind in pledged delegates you would still take that case all the way to the convention and try to convince the supers?

SANDERS:  Well we are going to do the best that we can in any and every way to win. But I think when you have states for example say in New Hampshire where we won by 22 points. In other states where we’ve won by 25 or even 30 points. I think it is not unreasonable for the people of those states to say to their super delegates, hey, how about representing the people of our state and the outcome of the caucus or the primary.

MADDOW: I’m just gonna add—I’m gonna push you and just ask one more time if—I’ll actually ask you in the other direction. If one of you—presumably there won’t be a tie. One of you presumably will be behind in pledged delegates heading into that convention. Should the person who is behind in pledged delegates concede to the person who is ahead in pledged delegates in Philadelphia?

SANDERS: Well, I don’t want to speculate about the future and I think there are other factors involved. I think it is probably the case that the candidate who has the most pledged delegates is going to be the candidate but there are other factors. And the other factors will be the strength of each of us in taking on the Republican candidate. What I think is most important to  all of the delegates, including the super delegates, is that we have a candidate who will win. and not allow Donald Trump to end up in the White House.”