Hillary Clinton Pivots to General, Sanders Campaign Manager Vows a Convention Fight

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Hillary Clinton Holds New York Primary Night Gathering In Manhattan
Winning.Photo: Justin Sullivan/2016 Getty Images

New York is ready for Hillary. And Hillary is ready for the general election. Clinton won Tuesday night’s Empire State primary by a double-digit margin, leaving Bernie Sanders with no realistic path to the nomination (other than one involving divine and/or FBI intervention). In her Times Square victory speech, the former New York senator reached a hand out to Sandernistas, then set about framing the general-election debate.

To all the people who supported Senator Sanders: I believe there is much more that unites us then divides us,” Clinton said, over the cheers of her supporters. “It’s becoming clearer that this may be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pushing a vision of America that’s divisive and fairly dangerous.”

But recent polling suggests that many Sanders supporters aren’t ready to sing kumbaya with Clintonites around a flaming effigy of the Donald, and neither is their candidate. After holding multiple campaign events in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Sanders flew back home to Burlington to catch some shut-eye. Shortly after touching down, the Vermont senator told local reporters, “We believe we have the momentum, and we believe we have a path of victory.”

Meanwhile, his campaign manager Jeff Weaver told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki that the path to victory might involve a contested convention.

"Is this a fair statement," Kornacki asked, "the popular vote and the pledged delegate count: If you are not leading at least one of those counts when June 7 finishes up, when we finish this primary process, you don’t have a claim to get those superdelegates to flip."

We’re going to go to the convention,” Weaver replied. “It is extremely unlikely that either candidate will have the requisite number of pledged delegates … so it is going to be an election determined by the superdelegates.”

Kornacki then asked how the Sanders campaign imagined it would win over superdelegates who favor Clinton without having any claim to “the will of the people.”

Well, because they’re going to want to win in November,” Weaver said. “And the polling continues to show that Bernie Sanders is a much stronger general-election candidate.”

So, the Sanders campaign’s most plausible victory plan is to ask the Democratic Establishment to overturn the will of the voters, for electability’s sake. This is an awkward argument for the democratic socialist.

We may be in for an awkward denouement to the Democratic primary.