Washington — Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that rival candidate Joe Biden would be the winner of the party's nomination if he ended up with a plurality of delegates at the end of the presidential primary season.
"If Biden walks into the convention or at the end of the process has more votes than me, he's the winner," Sanders told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in an interview. He later clarified he meant delegates, not votes.
But the Vermont senator added it would be damaging to the Democratic Party if superdelegates — elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee and party elders — were to support on the second ballot the candidate who won fewer pledged delegates.
"I think it would be a real, real disaster for the Democratic Party if, you know, I'm running against you and you have more votes than me and I say, 'Well, wait a second, I don't want Rachel. I want somebody else who didn't get as many votes as she did, let's count the superdelegates' vote on the second ballot,'" Sanders said. "You know what that would do to the Democratic electorate? People would say the person who got the most votes didn't get selected."
Biden currently leads Sanders in the national delegate race following his resounding victory on Super Tuesday. The former vice president currently has 584 delegates, while the Vermont senator has 509.
There are nearly 4,000 pledged delegates up for grabs in the 2020 Democratic primaries, and a candidate needs to win 1,991 to win the presidential nomination.
The number of superdelegates, meanwhile, sits at 771, and they can vote on the second ballot of a candidate fails to rack up the necessary 1,991 pledged delegates on the first ballot.
Biden's campaign has seen a resurgence following his decisive victory in the South Carolina primary, which led to a narrowing of the Democratic field of presidential contenders. After Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race at the start of the week, they both threw their support behind Biden.
The momentum propelled Biden to sweep southern states and several liberal strongholds Sanders won in 2016 on Super Tuesday. The former vice president also won Texas, where 228 pledged delegates were up for grabs. California, the biggest prize of the day with 415 delegates to be awarded, is leaning Sanders as votes continue to be counted.
In the wake of Super Tuesday, the Democratic presidential field continued to thin, with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ending his campaign and endorsing Biden.
Biden, Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard are all still in the race.