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Mitch Perry Report for 3.29.16 – Bernie Sanders camp says Hillary Clinton a “weak front-runner”

The Democratic race for president is already pretty well decided, right?

Hillary Clinton is at least 250 pledged delegates ahead of Bernie Sanders in the race for the nomination, and is up by more than 400 super delegates.  That’s with 32 states having participated to date.

The Sanders camp, though, is feeling very optimistic at the moment, as conveyed in a conference call conducted on Monday afternoon with campaign manager Jeff Weaver, senior adviser Tad Devine and pollster Ben Tulchin.

“I believe, and I think Ben just made this point very clearly as well, that she is a weak front-runner,” Devine said about Clinton.

Devine maintains that the March 15 primaries – where Clinton won big in Ohio and Florida – will be Clinton’s “high-water” mark when it’s all said and done. It’s true that Sanders has dominated the race since then, having won six out of the last seven primaries and caucuses in the past two weeks.

Devine also said something that seemed a stretch – that Sanders would be beating Clinton right now, if only he had chosen to compete in eight specific states on Super Tuesday – states where Clinton cleaned up and took home a huge share of delegates. “Ninety-seven percent of her delegate lead today comes from those eight states where we did not compete,” he said.

Although all eyes are on Wisconsin, which goes to the polls next Tuesday, the Sanders camp is already talking up the New York primary on April 19 as being an epic showdown. And California on June 7.

They also want a debate in New York next month, which will probably happen, Clinton officials say, though they’re in no hurry to schedule one.

Weaver even teased reporters by saying that Sanders has a number of super delegates who support  Sanders. But he clammed up and wouldn’t name names (or numbers) when challenged on that point.

One point where the Sanders camp remains vulnerable that they haven’t effectively been able to collect high numbers of votes from black and brown voters, crucial in a Democratic presidential primary.

When discussing general election poll numbers that all favor Sanders over Clinton in hypothetical match-ups against all three remaining GOP presidential candidates, Tulchin talked up Sanders’ numbers with black voters – in the general election,  seven months from now. And he acknowledged that in the upcoming New York primary, “We’re going to have introduce Bernie to people of color.”

Maybe Clinton was unbeatable going into this primary. When it’s all said and done, it could be Sanders’ lack of familiarity with black and Latino voters nationally will be his undoing.

Nevertheless, the campaign continues to raise big money and absolutely won’t be fading away into the woodwork for months, if at all.

In other news …

Lieutenant Governor and GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Carlos Lopez-Cantera came to Tampa on Monday, where he let his feelings be known regarding President Barack Obama‘s trip last week to Cuba.

• • •

Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., came to Tampa’s Sulphur Springs neighborhood on Monday afternoon, to unveil the 56th youth development park built by the foundation that honors his his late father.

• • •

Longtime East Tampa community organizer Diane Hart is throwing her hat into the ring of the first time into electoral politics.

• • •

And a coalition of Latino activists groups held a naturalization workshop on Saturday.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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