U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders celebrates his wins in the Alaska and Washington caucuses, as he turns his sights on Wisconsin. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) EDITORS NOTE: QUALITY AS INCOMING Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders easily won nominating contests in Alaska and Washington on Saturday (March 26), chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton's commanding lead in the race to pick the party's candidate for the White House. Sanders was aiming for a sweep of three Western states - Hawaii also was holding a contest - that would generate more momentum in his bid to overtake Clinton and help stave off calls from Democratic leaders that he should wrap up his bid in the name of party unity. "We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton's lead and ... we have a path to victory," Sanders told cheering, chanting supporters in Madison, Wisconsin. "That is what momentum is about!" he said, after learning the results from Washington mid-rally. Clinton, the former secretary of state, has increasingly turned her attention toward a potential Nov. 8 general election showdown against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, claiming she is on the path to wrapping up the nomination. Heading into Saturday's voting, she led Sanders by about 300 pledged delegates in the race for the 2,382 delegates needed to be nominated at the July convention. Adding in the support of superdelegates - party leaders who are free to back any candidate - she has 1,690 delegates to 946 for Sanders. Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, who will keep piling up delegates even when she loses under a Democratic Party system that awards them proportionally in all states. But Sanders has repeatedly said he is staying in the race until the convention, pointing to big crowds at his rallies and high voter turnout among young and first-time voters as proof of his viability. After raising $140 million, he has the money to fight on as long as he wants. Sanders has energized the party's liberal base and young voters with his calls to rein in Wall Street and fight income inequality, a message that played well in liberal Washington and the other Western states. Sanders won in Utah and Idaho earlier this week. All three contests on Saturday were caucuses, a format that has favored Sanders because it requires more commitment from voters, and were in states with fewer of the black and Hispanic voters who have helped fuel Clinton's lead. The Democratic race now moves to contests in Wisconsin on April 5 and in New York on April 19.