ABERDEEN - South Dakota is an important piece of the puzzle for democratic candidate Bernie Sanders - who faces a "must-win" in the Mount Rushmore state if he hopes to stop front-runner Hillary Clinton from getting the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination.
And to build support the Vermont senator is planning a series of stops in South Dakota on Thursday. His day will start at 10:45 in the gym of the Pine Ridge school.
The visits illustrate just how important South Dakota is as the race for president rolls on.
Bernie sanders is the first candidate to visit South Dakota since 2008 when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton paid a visit. As the tight race continues between Clinton and Sanders, his stop in South Dakota may push him closer to the nomination.
Hillary Clinton still holds a considerable lead ahead of Bernie Sanders, which means sanders will do all he can to clinch a nomination.
"Party elites in various states are automatically delegates and aren't bound by primary caucus results and the super delegates have overwhelmingly backed Hillary," says Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University.
Sanders vows to fight for votes until the end. That's why his South Dakota trip on Thursday matters more than usual.
"It seems like what he is going for now is to see how many pledged delegates he can have and have as big of an influence at the convention as possible," says Schaff.
During his South Dakota trip, he plans on addressing climate change, his free college tuition plan and removing big businesses from politics.
but other residents would like to hear the senator speak on issues that mid-westerners or those in the agricultural industry worry about.
"People here in South Dakota don't wouldn't vote like somebody on the east coast or west coast they have their own kind of values and things that affect them more than other parts of the country," says Trent Dean, a college student.
"You would think he would have something to say about agriculture in the state of South Dakota, but it's certainly not part of his regular speeches so we'll have to see if that's something he works in," says Schaff.
Schaff says seeing Donald Trump rise in the election indicates voters are interested in having a outsider in office--which gives socialist Bernie Sanders, a chance.
The last day to register to vote in the June 7th primary is May 23. You can also send in an absentee ballot ahead of the primary which is already underway.