There’s a whole lot of hand-wringing among Democrats right now over Bernie Sanders’s vow to keep on trying to flip super-delegates even if he continues to trail badly in the popular vote and pledged delegate count — a quest that, he says, could spill on to the convention floor in Philadelphia in July. Both Sanders himself and his campaign manager Jeff Weaver have rattled this saber.

But now senior Sanders adviser Tad Devine has telegraphed a much more likely endgame — one that would be a whole lot quieter and less contentious. In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Devine was asked whether this strategy is in sync with Sanders’s high-minded campaign, and he answered, in part:

“The key test is succeeding with voters. In 2008 I wrote a piece that they published in the New York Times right after Super Tuesday, and I argued that super-delegates should wait, should look and listen to what the voters do, and follow the will of the voters. And I can tell you, I got a lot of push-back from the Clinton campaign at the time, when I published that piece.
“But I believe that today — that our super-delegates, that our party leaders, should let the voters speak first. And I think if they do, all the way through the end of the voting, that will strengthen our party, and certainly strengthen our hand — if we succeed with voters between now and June.”

Note that “if.” In one sense, Devine is basically calling on Democrats to be patient and allow the voting to continue until the end. (I’ve argued that there are many good reasons for Sanders to keep going until all the votes have been counted.) But Devine is also clearly indicating that the super-delegates should not contradict the will of the voters, once they’ve all had a chance to speak.

It’s true, by the way, that Devine did argue this in a 2008 New York Times piece. It’s right here! Devine wrote that super-delegates should “ratify the results of the primaries and caucuses in all 50 states,” by supporting the “candidate who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters,” which will be determined by “listening to the voters.”

Now, it’s true that Devine did qualify his remarks later in the interview with Maddow, by saying that popular vote totals are potentially misleading in the sense that Sanders has won a lot of smaller caucus states, and noting that if Sanders comes very close in pledged delegates, it would be different than trailing among them by a large margin. But he also said this: “let’s see who’s won the states, let’s see who’s won the delegates, let’s see where we are in June, and I think then we’ll know what to do.”

That’s basically a signal that once it’s all over, the Sanders campaign will look at the aggregate will of the voters, as expressed by various metrics, and then re-assess how far to really go in trying to flip super-delegates. Is this in any way consistent with the suggestions from Sanders and Weaver that they will take this all the way to the convention? Maybe. It would be consistent with an endgame in which the Sanders campaign finishes in June trailing in the popular vote and pledged delegate count, makes one last pitch to super-delegates, finds that they are unwilling to switch, and then concedes and enters unity talks in which the two camps perhaps settle on some ways that Sanders can influence the convention proceedings and the party’s agenda in the fall campaign and beyond.

I think that’s the most likely endgame. Of course, if Clinton does finish with sizable popular vote and pledged delegate leads, how this ends up winding down is all up to one person: Bernie Sanders.


* BERNIE’S SUPER-DELEGATE STRATEGY PUTS LEFT IN A BIND: Sanders’s campaign has vowed that he’ll try to win the nomination by flipping super-delegates, even if he trails in the pledged delegate count. But the Huffington Post reports that this creates a problem for liberal groups backing him, since they oppose having party insiders swing the nomination.

As a spokesman for MoveOn puts it: “Super-delegates shouldn’t overrule the will of the Democratic grassroots.” The Sanders camp is probably saying he’ll do this just to keep his supporters engaged — and sending money — by persuading them there’s still a path for him.

* CLINTON BACKERS NUDGE SANDERS OUT OF THE RACE: The New York Times reports that senior Democrats are now trying to figure out a way to wind down the primaries without doing too much damage to the party, with some Clinton backers prodding Sanders to exit:

“There does come a point when Democrats, and those who believe we can’t afford a Trump or Cruz presidency, should recognize that we need to start thinking about what’s best for the presumptive nominee going forward,” said Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, a Clinton supporter whose state holds its primary on Tuesday. “The good news is that Bernie Sanders will remain in the Senate, where he can continue to speak out and continue to inspire new people into the process.”

The Clinton camp really needs to make sure her surrogates don’t go too far with this.

* SANDERS BACKERS DIVIDED OVER THE WAY FORWARD: The Los Angeles Times has a good report detailing how top backers of Sanders are divided over how aggressively to keep prosecuting the case against Hillary Clinton. Here’s Robert Reich:

“I want to urge Bernie supporters to tone down negative characterizations of Hillary and Hillary supporters to do the same with regard to Bernie. I know both candidates personally. Both are thoughtful and dedicated people who care deeply about this nation. Either of them would be a thousand times better president than any of the Republican candidates….It’s important that we not jeopardize that future joint effort through excessive divisiveness now.”

We’ll know a lot more about where this is going when Sanders appears in Pennsylvania today.

* WHY THE NEVER-TRUMP MOVEMENT MAY FAIL: Bloomberg Politics reports that after Trump’s big victory in New York, Never Trump Republicans face the reality that he may only be stopped after the nomination is taken from him at a contested convention, with him way up in delegates. And as GOP strategist Steve Schmidt says:

“Trust has completely collapsed in every every institution in America. And the notion that you’re going to explain to voters in this environment that it’s delegates — and not voters — who are going to pick the nominee is something that is going to be very, very difficult.”

Needless to say, Trump will do all he can to blast the proceedings as illegitimate, making it harder still.

* HERE COMES THAT GOP ALTERNATIVE TO OBAMACARE!!! The Post reports that House GOP leaders are set to roll out an agenda that down-ticket Republicans can campaign on this fall. This, from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is fun:

The result, in McCarthy’s telling, will be the most detailed set of policy plans released by House Republicans since retaking the majority more than five years ago. The health care plan, for instance, will put forth the first leadership-endorsed plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some plans will take the form of actual draft legislation; other parts will resemble “white papers” detailing specific policies. While McCarthy said the agenda will be comprised of detailed proposals, there remains the question of exactly how specific they will be in areas that could be politically treacherous.

Something tells us that the plan for replacing the ACA will not end up being all that “specific.”

* STAKES SOAR FOR GLOBAL CLIMATE DEAL: This Friday, representative from 150 nations will formally sign the global climate accord reached in Paris. The Post reports that the recent drumbeat of bad climate news raises the stakes for the deal to work — and to lead to more action:

The first three months of 2016 were the warmest on record in 136 years — by large margins. The massive Greenland ice sheet has melted this spring to an extent that scientists say they’ve never seen this early. New research suggested that if high levels of emissions continue unabated, sea levels could rise by nearly twice as much as expected by the end of this century. A global coral bleaching event fueled by warm seas is turning some once-majestic reefs into ghostly underwater graveyards.

This alone is why Sanders will do all he can to help elect Clinton president, if she’s the nominee: she would do everything possible to implement the deal, and a GOP president would pull us out of it.

According to more than two dozen U.S. and foreign-government officials, Trump has become the starting point for what feels like every government-to-government interaction. In meetings, private dinners and phone calls, world leaders are urgently seeking explanations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Trade Representative Michael Froman on down. American ambassadors are asking for guidance from Washington about what they’re supposed to say.

Of course those pointy-headed international elites are panicking. Trump is gonna knock their heads together and put an end to their fleecing of America. If anything, this will help him among GOP primary voters.