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Bernie Sanders' campaign is "harmful" to Hillary Clinton "because she can't make that general election pivot the way she should," says California Sen. Dianne Feinstein

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May 17, 2016 03:10 PM

It seems the Democratic Party wants to extinguish the Bern once and for all.

Bernie Sanders is facing increasing pressure to drop his presidential bid from party leaders who fear he’s hurting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton‘s chances of defeating presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

“I don’t think they think of the downside of this,” Clinton supporter and California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told The Associated Press of the Vermont senator’s campaign. “It’s actually harmful because she can’t make that general election pivot the way she should. Trump has made that pivot.”

“I would just hope that he would understand that we need to begin consolidating our vote sooner rather than later,” added New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, a Clinton backer and former chief of efforts to elect Democrats to the House. “Democrats cannot wait too long.”

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Sanders’ recent wins in Indiana and West Virginia have added to Democratic leaders’ concerns – and done little to help the senator catch up to what The AP calls Clinton’s “nearly insurmountable” delegate lead.

According to the math, Clinton is on track to win the nomination early next month. The former secretary of state has won a staggering 3 million more votes than her rival and has 94 percent of the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination, according to The AP. Provided her superdelegates continue to support her, this means Clinton could lose every single one the remaining states and still become the Democratic nominee.

Sanders is hoping to fight Clinton’s delegate lead by calling for changes to what he views as the Democratic Party’s “rigged” and undemocratic primary system. But a CNN analysis suggests that even drastic changes to the superdelegate rules would still leave Sanders far behind Clinton.

Nevertheless, Sanders has vowed to stay in the race to “fight for every last vote,” and up until now, Clinton and her camp have not called on the Democratic socialist senator to drop out.

But the tide is turning now that Trump has clinched the Republican nomination. “They fear the billionaire businessman is capitalizing on Sanders’ decision to remain in the race by echoing his attacks and trying to appeal to the same independent, economically frustrated voters that back the Vermont senator,” The AP writes.

As if to prove their point, Trump took to Twitter on Monday, ahead of Tuesday night’s primaries in Kentucky and Oregon, to encourage Sanders to continue his campaign – even if it means running as an independent.

Though Clinton has largely turned her attention to Trump in recent months, campaign aides say the two-front effort against Trump and Sanders is making it difficult for them to reach Sanders supporters and Republican-leaning independents who may be open to voting for Clinton. Sanders running as an independent would only make things harder for Clinton – and easier for Trump.

Sanders’ presence in the race has also forced Clinton to campaign more heavily in primary states, instead of focusing her efforts on the battlegrounds that will matter most in the general election.

Clinton, looking to slow Sanders’ recent momentum, has launched television and radio ads in Kentucky and will have made 11 campaign stops there in the last two weeks by the time Kentucky voters head to the polls on Tuesday, CNN reports.

Sanders has made the 2016 race unexpectedly challenging for Clinton but her supporters are confident that she will eventually emerge the nominee and go on to unite the Democratic party.

“She knows this is a long process. It’s a marathon you run to the end,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. “On the Democratic side, we’re attacking issues, not each other.”

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