The math is clear: To come from behind and win the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders needs a huge win in the last major contest of the Democratic presidential primary season — California.

He acknowledged as much — that his campaign hangs on one last state — in an interview with Chuck Todd that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“California is the big enchilada, so to speak,” Sanders said.

“Obviously, if we don’t do well in California,” he added, “it will make our path much, much harder. No question about it.’

That’s because the state offers a massive 475 delegates in its June 7 primary. But Sanders is so far behind front-runner Hillary Clinton in the pledged-delegate count that he would need to win California by huge margins to make a nomination a reality.

A RealClearPolitics average of the latest polls shows Clinton up by eight points in the state, but a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California suggests that the race is a dead heat.

Sanders is pouring huge resources into California, including spending the Memorial Day weekend campaigning there. And, yet, The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers reports from California that Sanders also appears to be hinting that he knows the race is over. He mentions Clinton very little, focusing most of his time instead on criticizing Republicans and their presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. Borchers reports:

[That] could also be seen as a tacit acknowledgment of reality — evidence that Sanders is trying not to inflict further rhetorical damage on Clinton, even as he campaigns all the way to the wire.
Subtle hints support the latter interpretation. In Santa Barbara, Sanders told supporters “this campaign is about reinvigorating American democracy. It’s stopping the move toward oligarchy, where a handful of billionaires control the political process.”
One goal he didn’t mention? Winning.

In Sanders’s interview with Todd, the normally laser-focused candidate entertained the idea — just for a second — that he wouldn’t be the nominee after California, saying: “So I would hope, if I am not the nominee, that the vice presidential candidate will not be from Wall Street, will be somebody who has a history of standing up and fighting for working families, taking on the drug companies whose greed is doing so much harm, taking on Wall Street, taking on corporate America, and fight for a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”

Sanders also didn’t say what he would do if Clinton chose him as her running mate.

Instead of answering whether he would take the job, he shifted back to campaign mode and told Todd that he’s focused on winning California. His presidential campaign, after all, depends on it.