- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on Bernie Sanders’ visit to Montana for rallies in Missoula and Billings ahead of the state’s June 7 Democratic presidential primary. (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he has a steep climb to close Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead in the Democratic presidential primary.

But the Vermont lawmaker told a packed arena in Billings on Wednesday that he still could end up with more voter-backed delegates than his rival at the party convention.

Just eight more states have elections before the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders says voters in those states have a chance to rebuff the party establishment and advance his platform of economic and social equality.

His appearance in Montana’s largest city followed a rally earlier in the day in Missoula. The two events marked first stops by a major candidate in the state since the primary season got underway.

Montana’s primary is scheduled for June 7. Twenty-seven delegates are at stake.

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1:15 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is holding a pair of Montana rallies as he seeks to stir support ahead of the state’s June 7 Democratic presidential primary.

The Vermont senator told a packed crowd at Caras Park Pavilion in Missoula Wednesday that his campaign has a steep climb to close in on Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead. Just eight more states have elections before the Democratic National Convention.

But he says the climb has been steep since the day he entered the race.

Sanders speaks in Billings Wednesday evening. It is the first Montana appearance by a major candidate since the primary season got under way.

Twenty-seven delegates are at stake in the state, as Sanders tries to close in on Clinton in the race’s final weeks.

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This story has been corrected to show that Montana has 27 Democratic delegates.

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