It was well past lunch on a highway in California near the start of Memorial Day weekend, and the reporters on the Bernie Sanders press van were basically begging their handler for some downtime. Maybe after the next event we could swing by the hotel, they asked the press aide. And to each other they wondered, Doesn’t this 74-year-old ever get tired?
But there is rarely time for a break in the Sanders campaign, as staffers and reporters follow a candidate who doesn’t ever seem to slow down. His opponents might consider the relentless pace a metaphor — why doesn’t he just stop running already? But the Vermont senator is currently barnstorming California, a delegate-rich state he sees as his last hope to slow Hillary Clinton’s path to the nomination. On this holiday weekend when Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, had scheduled just one public event and Hillary Clinton, the most likely Democratic nominee, had nothing public on her schedule, Sanders held one rally after another, interspersed with TV appearances. Ventura, Pomona, and Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday; Long Beach, Inglewood, the Young Turks and Bill Maher on Friday; Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Bakersfield on Saturday; Visalia and Fresno on Sunday; a few stops in Oakland on Monday.
As he points out at each event, this is the kind of primary campaign this state has never seen. Usually the race is decided by the time California votes. But Sanders is hoping that a big win here, while not enough to overcome Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates, will somehow convince unbound superdelegates to throw their support his way. “We are doing something that to the best of my knowledge has never been done in California political history, holding rallies just like this up and down this state,” he says again and again. “By the end of this, I am confident we will have personally met and spoken to over 200,000 Californians. We will win here, and we will go to the Democratic National Convention with the momentum to make our case.”
So as his staff catnapped in the motorcade and the press hoped for at least a coffee stop, the man himself — call him the Energizer Bernie — was completely “on” at one event after the next, giving his one-hour stump speech at what seemed like full volume over and over again.
“He runs the 25-year-old staffers into the ground,” says one former aide who recently left the campaign, which has shedded team members as Clinton has closed in on the nomination.
Another ex-staffer expressed similar surprise at Sanders’ grueling pace.
“Most candidates half his age would strain under the weight of that schedule. There was one day where he hit five or six states in a single day. I really don’t understand how he does it,” the staffer said.
So how DOES he do it? READ MORE