Sanders Tells Bill Maher Why He Has the Best Chance of Beating Trump

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders discussed how he can beat Hillary and a potential strategy for beating Donald Trump on 'Real Time With Bill Maher.' YouTube

The California primary is coming up on June 7, and Bernie Sanders continued his efforts to sustain momentum by following Thursday's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with a Friday-night sit-down with one of his biggest supporters in the media, Bill Maher.

Throughout the 11-minute interview, Sanders and Maher covered everything from Hillary Clinton's email—which Sanders declined to address directly—to a potential strategy for beating Donald Trump in the general election. "That is a good question, and I would not be honest if I told you I've figured it out yet," Sanders said, before suggesting that most Americans are proud of the country's diversity and ultimately will decide not to stand behind Trump and his hate speech.

More than anything, though, on Friday night Sanders reiterated his intention to take the race for the Democratic nomination all the way through to the convention in July, should he perform well in California. "If we can win here in California—and I think we've got a good shot to do that—and if we can win in many of the other states that are coming up on June 7, we will go into the Democratic Convention with a great deal of momentum," he told Maher.

The prospect of going into the convention with the party still fractured is a scary one for Democrats, especially as the GOP slowly unifies around Trump. The general election is probably going to be closer than many Democrats are willing to admit, and it's going to be unfortunate—and look weak—if the party isn't able to use the convention to celebrate a single candidate. But this is exactly what Sanders is hoping for.

Though Sanders trails Clinton in primary delegates, his biggest hurdle is his massive disadvantage in superdelegates. Even if he were to win California convincingly, he would still need to convince superdelegates who have already pledged their support to Clinton to change their minds. His only selling point is the idea that he would have a much better chance of beating Trump in the general election. This is why he tried to use Jimmy Kimmel to finagle his way into a one-on-one debate with the now-official Republican nominee. Trump has flip-flopped on whether he would take on Sanders before the California primary, but even if this stunt debate doesn't take place—which it probably won't—Sanders feels there is already a good reason for the Democratic superdelegates to reconsider their choice: the polls.

Said Sanders:

"These delegates, even if they have supported Clinton from Day 1, they're going to have to say, 'Look, if Bernie Sanders is beating Trump in many instances by double digits, not only in national polls, but in many state polls...I think we're 17 points ahead of him here in California. If that's true and if there are states where Clinton is actually losing to Trump where Bernie is winning, shouldn't we make sure that the Democratic nominee defeats Donald Trump?' That is the issue they're going to have to deal with."

To strengthen his case, Sanders broadened the criticism of Trump, warning that he would not only be a bad president but a threat to the entire planet. "This guy is a pathological liar," he told Maher. "I don't mean to be malicious, but that is just the damn truth. He would be not only an embarrassment, but a real danger to this entire world if he were to become president."

The problem with Sanders taking a "keep Trump out of the White House at all costs" stance is that at this point the best way to do that would be for him to drop out of the race and clear the way for Clinton. Winning California in a landslide may be unlikely, but convincing Clinton's superdelegates to change their allegiance to the degree to which he would get the nomination is close to inconceivable. If Sanders does happen to win California, though, it's going to be a damn interesting next few months for the Democratic party.