Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose aides were looking to fire up supporters on the eve of Tuesday’s primaries, stuck a reflective tone during a “digital rally” broadcast online, looking back on the achievements and shortcomings of his campaign.
After losing badly in the second straight round of primaries last week, Sanders has been offering unusually blunt public assessments of his efforts, arguing that he has failed to convince Democrats he is a better bet than former vice president Joe Biden to beat President Trump, but has won the battle of ideas and the support of young people.
On Monday night, he renewed those arguments in a bit more detail than he has before, and issued a stern warning to party leaders not to overlook the youth vote.
“It really does stun me to what degree the Democratic establishment continues to ignore the needs and the ideas of younger people,” said Sanders.
The senator said that “in many ways we won the ideological struggle,” pointing to the growing popularity of policy ideas he has long championed. And he claimed victory in the “generational battle,” touting his dominance among younger Democrats.
But speaking in stark terms, Sanders admitted, “We’re doing poorly with older people.” He added, “I gotta work on that.”
He said that most people feel “Joe Biden is the more electable candidate,” a verdict with which he did not agree. He acknowledged his struggles to bring out new, nontraditional voters in large numbers — a core part of his professed strategy — but expressed hope they would show up in November.
The “digital rally” featured musical performances from Neil Young and the Free Nationals, as well as appearances by actress Daryl Hannah and Sanders campaign officials speaking in short video entries from the states set to vote on Tuesday. They encouraged voters to support the Vermont senator.
Polls show Sanders trailing Biden by wide margins in the states headed to the polls on Tuesday — Florida, Arizona and Illinois. Officials in Ohio are in a legal battle over whether its primary will be delayed over the concerns about the novel coronavirus.
Sanders spoke at length about the virus, saying that it has reinforced the need to enact a Medicare-for-all system in which the government is the sole insurer. He also said it was a moment to consider and rectify economic inequities that could become more severe during the crisis.
“One of the great concerns that I have is we live in a moment of unfettered capitalism,” Sanders said.