Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed to continue his fight for the Democratic nomination early Wednesday morning, despite the fact that the door all but shut in his face as Hillary Clinton clinched the majority of pledged delegates with a sweeping win in New Jersey.
During a short speech in Santa Monica, California, a defiant Sanders praised the millions of voters who joined his "political revolution," and vowed to take his candidacy to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.
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"Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C.," Sanders told a raucous audience of supporters, who yelled so loud they delayed the start of his speech as Sanders could not speak over the din of their cheers. "We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C., and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia!"
At first, Sanders' speech sounded as if he was ready to throw in the towel on the nomination fight.
He spoke nearly an hour after his slated time, following a brutal loss in New Jersey and unexpected losses in South Dakota and New Mexico.
And he was also trailing Clinton by a wide margin in California at the time of his speech — a state he declared a "must-win" for his campaign.
The losses will require Sanders to flip an impossible number of superdelegates — or party leaders and elected officials — to defect from Clinton's campaign and back his bid if he has any shot of becoming the nominee. It's an unlikely scenario, especially given that President Barack Obama declared Clinton the nominee in a statement Tuesday night.
Early in his remarks, he reflected on where his movement started, and vowed never to allow presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump to win the White House.
"Our campaign from day one has understood some very basic points, and that is first, we will not allow right-wing Republicans to control our government. And that is especially true with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate," Sanders said.
But his tone took a distinct turn for the defiant toward the end of his remarks.
"I am pretty good at arithmetic and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight," Sanders said. "But we will continue to fight for every vote, every delegate."
Sanders said he was looking forward to meeting with Obama on Thursday to "work with him to make sure that we move our country forward."
And he ended his speech with a vow to press on.
"The struggle continues," he said.