After losing a number of primary elections to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is preparing for the worse as he begins to let go of hundreds of his campaign staff members.
Battered by four defeats in Tuesday night’s primaries, Bernie Sanders is planning to lay off hundreds of campaign staffers across the country and focus much of his remaining effort on winning the June 7 California primary.
The Vermont senator revealed the changes a day after Hillary Clinton’s victories widened her delegate lead and left her all but certain to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Despite the changes, Mr. Sanders said he would remain in the race through the party’s summer convention and stressed that he hoped to bring staff members back on board if his political fortunes improved. But political experts say the layoffs signal Mr. Sanders is beginning to accept that he will not be the Democratic nominee and is now focused on pulling the party toward a more progressive agenda.
“We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around the country,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “We don’t need people right now in Connecticut. That election is over. We don’t need them in Maryland. So what we are going to do is allocate our resources to the 14 contests that remain, and that means that we are going to be cutting back on staff.”
When asked how many people would be let go, Mr. Sanders did not give an exact number but did say, “It will be hundreds of staff members.”
“We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country; 40 of the states are now behind us,” he said “So we have had a great staff, great people.”
The development came a day after Tad Devine, Mr. Sanders’s senior campaign strategist, said in an interview that the senator would reassess his candidacy, looking into issues of staffing and messaging.
The remarks set off something of a backlash within the Sanders campaign, as officials disputed Mr. Devine’s comments, saying that no such reassessment would take place. Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager told NBC News that there would be “no big pow wow.”
When asked about Mr. Devine’s remarks, the senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, pushed back in a MSNBC interview. “No, no. We assess on an everyday basis,” Ms. Sanders said. “Even if he had a string of wins, like eight in a row or he’s won states by landslide victories, nobody in the media and certainly not The New York Times has ever said he has a chance to win.”
Mr. Sanders has started to talk more openly about the possibility of not winning the Democratic contest. During a rally in Indiana he talked not just of his path to victory but discussed what he might do if he lost.
He stressed he was in the race to “win and become the Democratic nominee.” But he also said if he did not succeed he would try to get as many delegates as possible and “put together the strongest progressive agenda any political party has ever seen.”
Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said in a statement that the campaign would keep on staff more than 300 workers focused on the remaining contests.
Mr. Loeser said Mr. Sanders’s comments showed that he was beginning to pivot his message, perhaps because people within the Sanders campaign are realizing that the senator would not be able to beat Mrs. Clinton.
“By the math, it’s been impossible for Senator Sanders to catch up for quite some time,” Mr. Loeser said. “Now it looks like he’s finally looked down, realized there is no ground underneath him, and is starting his descent.”
We love how Mrs. Sanders told the NY Times to their face that they provided bias reporting on the entire campaign trail.