Defiant Sanders tells supporters: 'You can beat the establishment'

A defiant Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia MORE is urging his supporters to continue his fight against the Democratic establishment, as the Vermont senator continues his quest to overhaul the party he only recently began associating with.

Ignoring calls to formally suspend his presidential campaign and back presumptive nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProminent Putin critic: If Trump turns me over, I'm dead Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up 'a strong Russia' MORE, Sanders is hoping to encourage a new wave of progressives to join Democrats' ranks and cement his key proposals into the party's platform.

Speaking to supporters in New York City on Thursday in an address titled “Where We Go From Here,” Sanders outlined several key concessions he intends to extract from Democrats at the convention next month.

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Sanders said he will seek rule changes to open all state primaries to independents and to eliminate superdelegates.

“While we’re at it, we may as well transform the entire Democratic Party,” Sanders said to thunderous applause.

The Vermont Independent also encouraged the frenzied crowd to take up his mantle and fight against the Democratic establishment.

“You can beat the establishment,” Sanders declared. “They’re not quite as powerful as some make them out to be. In every state we had to take on the entire Democratic establishment. That is not just your state — that’s true in every state in this country, and yet we ended up winning 22 of those states.”

“I have no doubt that a strong, well-organized grassroots movement can take on the establishment and defeat the establishment, and that is precisely what we’ve got to do and what the political revolution is all about,” he said.

Sanders said he would continue his efforts to ensure the party is committed to campaign finance reform, Wall Street regulation, criminal justice reform, climate change action and wealth redistribution through economic policy at the convention.

Sanders is looking to cash in on the political capital he’s earned through the primary season by taking the party in a more progressive direction.

His speech on Thursday seemed designed to remind the political world of the strength and commitment of his supporters, who have turned out by the thousands to hear him speak and contributed tens of millions in small-dollar donations.

Sanders said that his "hundreds of thousands of volunteers" had made 75 million phone calls on his behalf, knocked on 5 million doors and hosted 74,000 meetings in every state and territory in the country.

“We are just getting started,” Sanders said.

“What we showed is that you can run a powerful campaign without being dependent on Wall Street and super-PACs,” he added.

Sanders said a recently launched website had received 20,000 commitments from progressives who pledged to either run for office or help other liberals get elected.

Sanders highlighted two stops he had planned in the coming days — one in New York and another in California — where he plans to stump for a progressive House candidate and another candidate who is running for state Senate.

Thursday’s speech is the first in what looks like a prolonged effort by Sanders to stay in the spotlight, even as Clinton has turned her attention to defeating Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE in the general election.

Sanders will appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” later Thursday evening, and on Friday will give another “Where We Go From Here” address to supporters at a rally in Albany, N.Y.

Sanders is technically still running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, although he has acknowledged that the race is all but over, admitting this week that he will likely not be the nominee.

Sanders has said that he will do whatever he can to keep Trump out of the White House, but he appears committed to staying in until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July and bringing his key proposals there.

He has steadfastly refused to end his bid and back Clinton even as some of his fiercest supporters have peeled away to support the party’s likely nominee.

The Clinton campaign has shrugged off Sanders’s decision to stay in rather than risk angering him. They believe Sanders will eventually back down and rally his supporters behind Clinton and the Democratic ticket.

Still, some of Sanders’s supporters have told The Hill that he risks losing influence the longer he hangs on. 

Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDems struggle with unity amid leadership tensions New Dem star to rattle DC establishment Overnight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases MORE (D-Vt.), an early Sanders supporter, told The Hill earlier this month that he has warned the campaign that their candidate has nothing to gain by refusing to concede the race to Clinton, or by withholding his support.

“The sooner he indicates his support for Hillary Clinton, the more leverage he’ll have to achieve his goals,” Welch said.