NEW YORK -- White House hopeful Bernie Sanders, who is making a spirited but improbable bid to catch Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, said Wednesday that having so many Southern states vote early in the process “kind of distorts reality.”
Clinton built her formidable delegate lead over Sanders partly on the basis of lopsided wins in states including South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, all of which held primaries or caucuses by March 1.
In more recent weeks, Sanders has been on a winning streak, claiming victories in seven of the last eight states to hold nominating contests, many of them in the West. Though he has gained ground on Clinton in the delegate count, Sanders remains in a position where he will have to win big in most of the remaining states to have a shot at matching Clinton’s total.
During a taping Wednesday of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show,” host Larry Wilmore noted that several commentators have recently called the nominating system “rigged.”
“What is your feeling on that?” Wilmore asked the senator from Vermont.
“I think that having so many Southern states go first kind of distorts reality,” Sanders replied, saying he performs better in more "progressive" parts of the country.
Earlier in the segment, Sanders also noted his difficulties in the Deep South, where Clinton benefited from her popularity among sizable African-American electorates, as Wilmore quizzed him about whether it is possible to win enough remaining delegates to catch Clinton.
Wilmore suggested Sanders has the “momentum” in the race heading into the New York primary on Tuesday but Clinton has the “math-mentum.”
“Do you have a path with the math or is your path without the math?” Wilmore asked.
“No, our path is with the math,” Sanders said before noting: “We started out this campaign having to run in the Deep South.”
“Trust me, I know about running in the Deep South,” Wilmore, who is an African American, interjected to laughs from the studio audience.
“It’s a conservative part of our country, but since we’ve been out of the South, we’ve been doing pretty well,” Sanders said, noting his better showings in other regions where there are more “progressive” states.
Besides being interviewed by Wilmore, Sanders was also featured in a “mic drop” sketch on the show in which Wilmore called on him to respond to the derogatory use of the term “New York values” by Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a Republican presidential hopeful.
Sanders, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, provided a length rebuttal, claiming, “I will never lose the values that New York and my family have given me.”