Bernie Sanders challenges Hillary Clinton to a debate on her home turf

Fresh off a Western sweep, Sanders looks to surge to a comeback on the road to the convention

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published March 28, 2016 1:56PM (EDT)

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton  (Adam Rose/cnn)
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (Adam Rose/cnn)

Bernie Sanders saw one of the best weekends of his entire campaign this weekend and he is now hoping to seize on that momentum to carry him on the road to the Democratic National Convention this summer, including at least one pit stop in New York, where he hopes to challenge rival Hillary Clinton to a debate and eventual upset in her home state.

Clinton barely eked out a win in her birth state of Illinois earlier this month, and while she handily took her first adopted home state of Arkansas on Super Tuesday, the Sanders campaign hopes to steal a win in the state Clinton represented as a U.S. Senator for eight years, New York.

Fresh off three commanding wins in Washington, Hawaii and Alaska this weekend, Sanders called on Clinton to debate him on her home turf. "I would hope very much that as we go into New York State, Secretary Clinton's home state, that we will have a debate, New York City, upstate, wherever, on the important issues facing New York and in fact the country," Sanders told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" Sunday, arguing that his campaign still has a change to overtake Clinton with pledged delegates ahead of the convention in Philadelphia in July, forcing the so-called super delegates to join his campaign.

As it stands now, Sanders still trails Clinton in pledged delegates, 1,012 pledged delegates to her 1,251 . But his big wins in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, will easily garner him the majority of the 142 pledged delegates in those states. As for super delegates, Sanders still only has 29 to 469 already pledged to Clinton.

With this week being the first week of 2016 to see no debates scheduled and no voting taking place, Sanders hopes the momentum from his enormous wins over the weekend doesn't die down. Democrats have already seen eight presidential debates this cycle.

"I certainly would like to see a debate in New York State," the Brooklyn-born Vermont senator told "Meet the Press," admitting that he had "a little bit of concern" that Clinton would not participate in more debates.  The state is set to vote April 19. In the most recent statewide poll, taken by the Emerson College Polling Society March 14 to 16, Clinton held a commanding 71 percent to 23 percent lead.

"I think the momentum is with us," Sander explained, however, on CNN's "State of the Union," pointing out that he won every election over the weekend by at least 40 percentage points.

"I think when they begin to look at reality, and that is that we are beating Donald Trump by much larger margins than Secretary Clinton" Sanders said. "And then you've got superdelegates in states where we win by 40 or 50 points. I think their own constituents are going to say to them, 'Hey, why don't you support the people of our state and vote for Sanders?'"

"A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton," Sanders predicted.

Watch Sanders challenge Clinton to a ninth debate on her home turf, via NBC News:

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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