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'We'll Take It': Rep. Grijalva On Sanders' Latest Primary Showings

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

More now on those two presidential primaries yesterday - Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in Oregon. She declared victory in Kentucky, but the margin is so narrow that race is still too close for us to call. We do know Clinton maintains her dominant lead over Sanders in the delegate count. Here with me in the studio this morning is Congressman Raul Grijalva. He's an Arizona Democrat. He was also the first member of Congress to come out and endorse Bernie Sanders. Good morning, Congressman.

RAUL GRIJALVA: Good morning. Thank you very much.

KELLY: So what's your read of last night's vote?

GRIJALVA: A virtual tie and a win is good.

KELLY: You'll take it.

GRIJALVA: We'll take it. And it keeps the momentum going. And it keeps the message and the enthusiasm going. And as we go into June 7 in California, we have New Mexico. We have other states ahead of us to continue this momentum and continue to do good and continue to, more importantly, keep that message alive.

KELLY: OK. You mentioned two of the M words - message and momentum. There's also that tricky third one math. Sanders keeps winning states. Clinton still has a huge lead, particularly among superdelegates. Is there a path to victory for Sanders?

GRIJALVA: I think the superdelegates - and many of them my colleagues in Congress, more specifically, and who the state's party leadership - committed to Hillary a long time ago, even before - many before even Sanders was in the race. I think it's time for a second look. I think that an opportunity to have frank discussions with superdelegates about them transitioning to Bernie. Given the fact that all the polls indicate that, you know, Bernie and that campaign does better against Trump than Hillary, and that there is a level of momentum and a level of enthusiasm right now that our party hasn't seen in at least a decade and a half. And I really believe that that is going to be part and parcel of defeating Donald Trump.

KELLY: OK. So yes or no - path to victory for Bernie Sanders?

GRIJALVA: I think a path still exists. And as he says, it's narrow, and it's steep. But, you know, this has - you know, dirt has been - Bernie's been buried more than once in this campaign - from the beginning, where he was a Don Quixote chasing windmills, to now that the math doesn't work in his favor. I think he's proven time and time again that this campaign - this movement - is resilient. And we need to keep going. There's a message and there's a constituency that expects us to do that.

KELLY: Let me turn you to what happened over the weekend in Nevada at the state's Democratic convention in Las Vegas. There were reports of Sanders supporters throwing chairs, reports of death threats. What happened?

GRIJALVA: I'm not entirely sure what happened at that. But there was a disagreement at how it was being called by the chair of the party. And it turned into a situation where there was yelling and I - you know, Bernie has condemned it. He said that there's no place for violence, personal or otherwise.

KELLY: He hasn't apologized, though. Do you think he should?

GRIJALVA: Well, I think condemning that kind of action is, in my mind, as good as an apology. But having said that, you know, I also saw the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, say that that wasn't enough. Because one of the things Bernie said - and a lot of us have said - the party structure from national to state - party structure of the Democratic Party - have been pro-Clinton campaign from the beginning. And anybody that denies that is not being truthful. And all Bernie did was re-enforce that and said our delegates and our - the people that have supported this campaign need to be treated with dignity and respect at the convention. I don't think that's too much to ask.

KELLY: I wonder if this drama in Nevada speaks to how high frustration must be running in Bernie Sanders's camp. That the - you keep winning primaries, but the math still doesn't look good.

GRIJALVA: Yeah, I think it's frustration. And I think there's a sense of urgency in that this has been an insurgent campaign, no question about it. I think there is - I think it behooves the Democratic establishment to understand there's a block of voters - Democratic voters to the left of center that have supported Bernie and need their place and need their ideas and need their issues represented at this convention from the platform to the time allotted to candidates.

KELLY: All right. Thank you so much for stopping by.

GRIJALVA: No problem. Thank you.

KELLY: That's Congressman Raul Grijalva. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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