Sanders expected to campaign in RI next month

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FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Vermont senator sought to broaden his appeal with black voters Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in speeches in South Carolina denouncing “institutional […]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is likely to make a campaign stop in Rhode Island next month, WPRI.com has learned.

Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior adviser, told WPRI.com he believes Sanders will visit Rhode Island to campaign here ahead of the state’s April 26 presidential primary, “probably sometime in early/mid April.”

Devine, a Rhode Island native, has played a central role in the Vermont senator’s insurgent bid to defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. His previous experience includes high-level jobs with the John Kerry and Al Gore campaigns.

While history suggests Clinton has an edge in Rhode Island – she easily defeated Barack Obama in the state back in 2008 – the Sanders campaign has shown strength in New England, nearly taking Massachusetts on March 1 and winning a landslide in New Hampshire last month.

“I believe Bernie can win Rhode Island,” Devine said in an email. “He came very close to winning Massachusetts, a state that President Obama lost to Hillary by 15 points, and Obama had support from Governor [Deval] Patrick and both U.S. senators.”

Clinton spokesman Tyrone Gayle declined to comment on whether he expects the former secretary of state to hold a public campaign event in Rhode Island; she already visited last July for a private fundraiser. Both sides are expected to ramp up activity in the state as the primary draws nearer.

Clinton has opened up a significant lead over Sanders in pledged delegates awarded from primaries and caucuses, 1,147 to 830, according to an Associated Press tally. Her lead is even larger when superdelegates – party leaders who can back any candidate regardless of how their states vote – are included.

All nine of Rhode Island’s superdelegates are supporting Clinton.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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