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Despite Dismal Odds, Bernie Sanders Supporters Keep On Fighting


California's primary is less than a month away - June 7. And Bernie Sanders' supporters are pulling out all the stops. But even some of his strongest supporters admit he probably won't be the Democratic nominee. NPR's Sam Sanders takes a look at what makes those supporters keep on pushing in spite of the odds.




SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: That was the sound last week at yet another big Bernie Sanders campaign rally.


B. SANDERS: What a turnout. Thank you, Stockton.

CODY SIEBULL: Everybody's cheering, and it sounds like Stockton is ready for a political revolution. And those roars - that was it right there - like, for sure - the roars of that crowd at that rally.

S. SANDERS: That's Cody Siebull. He's a big Bernie supporter and volunteer. Siebull was backstage at that Stockton, Calif., rally with another Sanders volunteer, Kari Khoury. Because they've both been such good volunteers, Siebull and Khoury got the chance to be part of Sanders' motorcade during his Northern California trip, driving the official Sanders film crew around.

KARI KHOURY: We left at 5:30 this morning - so we followed the senator's car and the Secret Service car - drove up to Sacramento - we drove down to Stockton - Oakland - airport.

SIEBULL: Straight to the airport.

S. SANDERS: It was a long day. Siebull took off from work for it. He does maintenance operations at the Port of Stockton. Khoury is a retired nurse, and she usually volunteers about 35 hours a week for Bernie. This is the level of support Bernie Sanders continues to receive even as his odds of actually winning the Democratic nomination continue to shrink. So I had to ask.

Do you think Bernie still has a shot at being the nominee?

KHOURY: I'm never going to say never because...

S. SANDERS: What's - well, what's the chance right now?

KHOURY: We know the chance is smaller. It's narrow as Bernie...

S. SANDERS: How narrow?

KHOURY: It's...

SIEBULL: It's thin, absolutely.

S. SANDERS: OK, but if the path is thin...

KHOURY: Why keep going?

S. SANDERS: That's what I'm asking you.

KHOURY: Oh, because the - our nominee...

S. SANDERS: Khoury and Siebull have a lot of reasons. For one, keeping Sanders in this race can influence the likely Democratic nominee.

KHOURY: It it's to be Hillary Clinton, she needs to know.

S. SANDERS: Know what?

KHOURY: That we are going to hold her feet to the fire.

S. SANDERS: For Siebull, continuing to support Bernie, whatever the odds, is really about fighting corporate money in politics.

SIEBULL: Because all the other issues that I personally care about, whether it be single-payer health car, raising the minimum wage, et cetera, et cetera, is not going to happen as long as these corporate profits can influence our politicians.

S. SANDERS: Siebull's biggest issue this election is health care. He's married with kids, and he tells me he pays $400 a month for a policy that has a thousand-dollar deductible. We talked about issues like that and the delegate math for over an hour, and the conversation got heated at points.

SIEBULL: The American people have got to be the dumbest group of voters in the world - like, I mean, I'm - that's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it, Man. It's low information from opinion-based corporate news.

S. SANDERS: It seemed it was the two of them and Bernie not just against me but against the world.

SIEBULL: The question you asked Kari about - how does it feel to be up against a machine - comically sickening, Man. Like, it's so funny; it makes me sick. You know what I'm saying?

S. SANDERS: But Siebull and Khoury lit up when I asked them what they did in the moment when they finally got to meet Bernie.

So what did she do?

KHOURY: Bernie - waving - we - I was waving like a mother.

SIEBULL: He's 50 feet away on camera, getting - she's like, Bernie - hi, Bernie.

KHOURY: He sees me. Did he see me?

SIEBULL: He waved at me, like (laughter).

KHOURY: Hey, come on. It's giving gratitude. And...

SIEBULL: Oh, absolutely.

KHOURY: You know, we're just really grateful. I'm grateful. But I'm like that.

S. SANDERS: And maybe that's what it means to be a super Bernie supporter right now in spite of the odds. It's gratitude to the candidate for making it this far, for coming to your neck of the woods, for sticking this thing out. So whether Bernie Sanders is on a victory lap or a farewell tour, they're going to show up and say thanks. Sam Sanders - no relation - NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.