Sanders, Kasich campaign stops show Oregon matters

Oregon's primary is May 17

John Kasich
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, listens as he gets the endorsement of former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two presidential candidates bring their campaigns to the state Thursday less than 3 weeks from the Oregon primary that matters this year.

Democrat Bernie Sanders held a rally in Eugene, a day after he let go hundreds of campaign staffers — and just 2 days after losing 4 of 5 primaries to Hillary Clinton. He has said he wants to continue to run in all of the remaining states to try and win as many delegates as possible to bolster his clout at the Democratic National Convention.

“He hopes to affect the direction of the Democratic party and to really put pressure on Hillary and the party elites to pay attention to the policy stances that he’s pushing,” said Lewis & Clark political scientist Ben Gaskins.

He drew young supporters from the nearby University of Oregon. Sanders said he’s hoping for a high voter turnout in Oregon because that’s when he tends to win.

Republican John Kasich held a Town Hall in Portland Thursday. The long-shot GOP candidate is making his first campaign stop of the season in Oregon.

“Kasich’s whole campaign at this point is to try to push for an open convention where no candidate has a majority of the delegates, and that on third, fourth, fifth ballots somewhere down the line, the Republican delegates try to find a compromise candidate that is electable that can beat Hillary Clinton,” said Gaskins. “That’s what Kasich is banking on, that he will be that alternative candidate at the convention.”

Oregon has 74 Democratic delegates and 28 Republican delegates up for grabs – small yet potentially crucial numbers for both parties in securing a nominee.

“The fact Oregon voters really have a role to play in determining – especially the Republican nominee – is really remarkable,” Gaskins said.

After big losses earlier this week, Kasich and Sanders are hoping Oregon can help keep their campaigns alive.

KOIN 6 News reporter Tim Becker filed this video report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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