ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
We're joined now by former Michigan Sen. Don Riegle, who supports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. And welcome to the program, Sen. Riegle.
DON RIEGLE: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: The race in Michigan, as we've been saying, is very close. Some early results showed Sanders with a slight lead. How do you factor this into the story of the race at this point?
RIEGLE: Well, I think it's - as a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I'm encouraged by the fact that he has a lead now. As you probably know, he's relatively new to the state of Michigan in terms of having not been able to campaign there for very long. And two weeks ago, I think most of the polls indicated that Hillary was ahead probably by 20 points. I would say, you know, that's a fair blended span, so it's closed up very quickly once he was in the state and people had a chance to hear what he had to say. So I would say with the race this close with about 25 percent of the vote in - of course, you never quite know where it's from - that this is a highly-competitive race. I think it's very good news for him. And in terms of - you know, I have a thought or two as to what it means, but you may have another question you want to pose.
SHAPIRO: Well, I was going to ask given that Hillary Clinton has solidly carried Mississippi, even if Bernie Sanders does win Michigan tonight, it looks like Hillary Clinton will extend her delegate lead even farther. In order to win the nomination, at some point Sanders has to start solidly defeating Clinton in state after state after state. Do you expect to see that happen?
RIEGLE: I think it can happen. And there is a bit of an illusion in the numbers because you're quite right in saying that in terms of where the votes come from across the country for the nomination. But if you take all the big states in the South that Hillary has done so well in, we're not going to - the Democratic Party's not going to carry any of those states in the general election. And so it's somewhat misleading because apart from the nomination that's key a issue because it becomes first, obviously - but the real race in November is going to be decided in what we call the blue states and the purple states, where in fact Democrats do win and can win. And I think until we see how the votes sort out in those places, you don't really have a good way to test who can win in November because it's winning in November that really counts. The polling data that I've seen in the most recent polling data shows that Bernie Sanders runs better against all the Republicans in the general election than Hillary Clinton does. That's very significant. And I think people need to think about why Bernie is doing so well in a general election matchup and Hillary's not doing so well.
SHAPIRO: That's former Michigan Sen. Don Riegel, supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Thanks for joining us.
RIEGLE: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.