Sanders eyes Western comeback, chips away at Clinton lead

Bernie Sanders is looking ever-westward for a shot at significantly closing Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead – or even taking his against-the-odds bid to the Democratic convention – and is aiming to stage a comeback starting this weekend in Washington state.

The state, anchored by the very liberal city of Seattle, is seen as friendly territory for the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, and is one of the most valuable delegate prizes left on the presidential primary map. It offers 101 delegates in Saturday’s caucuses – but Sanders will not only need to win, but win big to make any measurable difference in the race against Clinton.

The senator was buoyed, though, after walking away from the three contests earlier this week with more delegates than Clinton and chipping away, slightly, at Clinton’s enormous lead. While the front-running former secretary of state won the marquee Arizona primary, Sanders gained a net of nearly 20 delegates by pocketing wins in the Idaho and Utah caucuses.

Sanders has tended to do better in caucus contests, and will compete in three more of them this weekend. Hawaii and Alaska, while less valuable in terms of delegates, also are holding caucuses on Saturday, alongside Washington.

Sanders, who has been barnstorming Western states, told a Spokane, Wash., crowd on Thursday that a win in Washington would mark a major step toward the White House for his campaign, as he maintained he’s the best candidate to go up against the Republican nominee in November.

“We are the strongest candidate. … We’re going to work together to get the nomination,” Sanders told the crowd. “We are gaining a lot of momentum. Just in the last week, we have closed the gap with Secretary Clinton.”

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