In a press call today, Sanders campaign officials outlined the pathway forward for Bernie's campaign, and intimated that there might be a revolution of a different sort than the one originally envisioned.
While acknowledging that Hillary Clinton has amassed a large lead, campaign manager Jeff Weaver insisted it could be overcome in the remaining states, likening it to a football game at the halftime mark.
When asked whether Sanders' tone would shift to one with less personal attacks and take on the tone of a general election, Weaver said the tone would remain the same, with little change. They would continue to reference Donald Trump and their belief that Sanders would do better with independents than Clinton would, while focusing on the issues they believe could result in large wins in the later states.
Weaver went so far as to claim that continued attacks from the Bernie camp would spare Clinton "months and months of relentless attacks" from Donald Trump. "I don't know if that would be healthy for her," he concluded.
The Sanders camp plans to place their focus on the caucus states coming up as well as Wisconsin, Arizona and California.
Tad Devine then implied a revolution of a different sort, suggesting that already-pledged delegates to Clinton could revolt and shift to the Sanders camp, should momentum turn in their direction.
"When a frontrunner assumes the lead, that frontrunner needs to win to the end," said Devine, suggesting that losses in the later states would soften delegate loyalty. When asked outright by MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald whether or not he was suggesting a campaign to turn her pledged delegates toward Sanders, Devine demurred, saying simply that it would be technically possible to do so.
"It is not a matter of delegate math," Weaver insisted.
Here's where I depart from the dry recount of what was said on the call, turn toward you Kevin Spacey-style, and offer some commentary.
I want Bernie Sanders to stay in this campaign all the way to the end, and I want every Democratic voter (whether registered independent or Democrat) in all the states to have their say about who the nominee should be. I want things to stay civil and I want us all to keep our powder dry for November.
I want to humiliate Donald Trump. Not just win, but humiliate him, and that means we have to stay united.
To me, the suggestion that voters in the earlier states should somehow be ignored because Bernie starts winning the later states is, frankly, undemocratic.
Whether Tad Devine and Jeff Weaver like it or not, the fact is that Hillary Clinton has won more delegates than Bernie Sanders up to this point. Pledged delegates. The kind that everyone said should be the only ones that counted.
The very suggestion that those earned delegates should somehow be induced or wooed to break that pledge is just plain wrong. Before you throw shoes at me, rest assured I'd say the same thing about Hillary if her camp suggested such a thing about Bernie Sanders' earned delegates.
The purpose of primaries is for voters to express their party preference for the general election. If you're not the frontrunner, keep striving. But don't suggest some kind of attempt at delegate revolt as the way forward and expect respect for it.
For those of you who continue to confuse superdelegates with pledged delegates and don't want to believe I heard what I heard, here's the tweet of a Time Magazine reporter also on the call, who also reports the same thing.
Sanders camp now arguing that state laws binding dels can't be enforced. Not sure of the law, but not an argument you want to have to make
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 16, 2016
Oh, you skeptics. Here's Alex Seitz-Wald, at MSNBC, asking the specific question. Here, I'll even transcribe it for you.
SEITZ-WALD: Tad, you mentioned earlier in the call that something about pledged delegates not necessarily having to vote for whom they're pledged to. Could you just describe that process a little bit more for those of us who aren't as versed as you are in the process. And are you going to make an active campaign of people who are pledged to switch their votes.
DEVINE: Well no, let me start with the second part of that question. We're not going to try to, you know, convince anyone to do anything, at the moment. The reason I brought that up is just to illustrate the fact that you know, in 1980 is a very good example of this.
If you are the frontrunner in the nominating process, even if you have a significant delegate lead, that delegate lead with pledged delegates can become very soft if you don't continue to win. That's the point I'm trying to illustrate.
We don't have a plan at the moment to start calling all the Clinton delegates once they get selected and try to sway them individually to vote for Bernie Sanders. But we do believe that if we can succeed in this last half of the process as much as Hillary did or even more so, that there will be enormous pressure on people who are delegates at this convention to do the right and responsible thing.
We think the right and responsible thing will be to support the candidate who is the strongest candidate to go up against the Republicans, particularly if the Republicans select Donald Trump as the nominee. We really think it changes the game in a fundamental way.
The Democrats will be deeply concerned about having the possibility of a guy like Trump being the President of the United States.
So, as to the standard that I'm referring to in the Democratic Party. In 1980, we had the big fight over this. The standard was that a delegate who didn't vote for a candidate for whom they were elected could be removed physically from the floor of the convention and replaced by an alternate who was pledged to that candidate who would cast the vote in favor of that candidate.
After the '80 convention and the Hunt commission, the standard in the Democratic Party was changed to the standard we now refer to as "fair reflection." That is embodied in the rules of delegate selection, and also in the call to the convention.
And it says, "A delegate shall, in all good conscience, reflect the sentiments of the voters who participated in primaries and caucuses." That is our standard. Not a standard embodied in a law, for example, that says that you have to vote for somebody. By the way, many states do have laws like that but it's been demonstrated constitutionally that those laws cannot be enforced in light of the Democratic Party's very strong First Amendment associational interest to make its own party rules.
The Democratic Party rule will define what happens in this instance. And that rule is a standard of fair reflections. Those delegates are free to do what they want to fairly reflect those sentiments of voters who participated in primaries and caucuses, but they are not bound in any way to do so.
The audio is embedded below: