WASHINGTON — Facing a large delegate deficit, tough odds and just 10 remaining state contests, Senator Bernie Sanders made it clear Sunday that he intends to fight on to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Sanders' stated path relies on primary opponent Hillary Clinton's not reaching a majority of pledged delegates and on superdelegates' switching their allegiances.
"It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach a majority of convention delegates by June 14 with pledged delegates alone," Sanders, a senator from Vermont, said at a news conference at the National Press Club.
"In other words, the convention will be a contested contest," he said of the Democratic National Convention to take place in Philadelphia in July.
Sanders said he would fight to persuade superdelegates to flip their support to him ahead of and during the convention.
"If I win a state with 70 percent of the vote, you know what? I think I'm entitled to those superdelegates," Sanders told a reporter.
The Sanders campaign gave reporters a leaflet highlighting states he's won by large margins, along with the relatively small number of superdelegates he's received from those states.
"In states where either candidate ... has won a landslide victory, those superdelegates ought to seriously reflect on whether they should cast their superdelegate vote in line with the wishes of the people of their states," he added, noting that Clinton would be just as entitled to superdelegates in states where she had won "landslide" victories.
When asked about his progress on convincing Clinton-backing superdelegates, Sanders gave no specifics.
At about 1,641 to 1,320, Clinton leads Sanders by roughly 320 delegates, with delegates from Washington state still to be allocated.
According to estimates by NBC News, Sanders would have to win about 65 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to overtake Clinton, while Clinton needs to win only 35 percent to maintain her lead.
When asked later whether his internal polling suggests he could hit that mark, Sanders said that it was a "steep climb" but that his campaign's numbers look "pretty good for us" in places like California.
Last week at a rally in Oregon, Sanders heavily criticized the Democratic Party, laying out areas he believed the party needed to improve upon, citing open primaries and automatic voter registration for 18-year-olds.
This appeared to begin a refocusing of his electoral successes into policy and platform influence ahead of the convention, as opposed to the nomination itself. But Sunday, Sanders insisted that he still has a path to the nomination.
"It is not an impossible road to climb," he reiterated.
In 2008's Democratic nominating process, Barack Obama was named the presumptive nominee over Clinton by hitting the necessary number of delegates with the help of superdelegates.