U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, leaving South Carolina to campaign in other states, said Wednesday that he is “not writing off South Carolina.”
Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by an average of 24 points in recent polls.
Talking to reporters at a Columbia hotel, the Democratic presidential hopeful counted narrowing Clinton’s lead in South Carolina as a success.
“We were 50, 60, 70 points behind,” Sanders said. “We have waged a very, very vigorous campaign. We have picked up a lot of support, and we have closed the gap very, very significantly. We’re not writing off South Carolina. You all know that, on March 1, there are a dozen states that are holding elections.”
S.C. Democrats vote Saturday. But, on Wednesday and Thursday, Sanders will be campaigning in Missouri and Oklahoma — “where we think we have a shot to win,” he said.
Sanders held to the press conference to discuss the rise of poverty, which he blamed on welfare reforms that Bill Clinton signed into law when he was president. Sanders said he opposed the legislation, but “(Hillary) Clinton at that time had a very different position on welfare reform — strongly supported it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage.”
In her 2003 memoir “Living History,” Clinton wrote she helped build support for welfare reform, which she called a “historic opportunity to change a system oriented toward dependence to one that encouraged independence,” Bloomberg Politics reported.
Fielding several questions about his strategy for winning the Democratic nomination, Sanders ribbed the media.
"Here we are talking about children in South Carolina and in America, in the wealthiest country in the world, and you're asking me to predict how many votes I'm going to get” in upcoming primaries, Sanders said.
Sanders’ campaign has said the senator’s path to the nomination will be a “long slog,” winning some states and losing some as the contest rolls on, possibly to June.
“In some of those states, I expect we’re going to do very well and win ... and some states we’re going to lose,” Sanders added, urging the media to consider the race as a long haul, not a state-by-state contest.
“We’re in this race to win it, and I think we are going to pull off one of the great political upsets.”