NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Bernie Sanders acknowledged on Saturday that he'd lose the Democratic primary to Hillary Rodham Clinton if the election were held now.

"We started way, way, way down," the Vermont senator told reporters while campaigning in North Charleston, South Carolina. "I think you're going to see us picking up a lot of steam here in South Carolina. ... I will not deny, if the election were held today, we would lose."

Sanders said that he started his campaign with much lower name-recognition than front-runner Clinton and is still working to introduce himself to voters.

Sanders met with reporters before speaking at a rally organized by the South Carolina Democratic Party and afterward filed his paperwork as a candidate in the state's primary. Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley also addressed the crowd separately.

Later Saturday, Sanders and O'Malley were to participate in a criminal justice forum in Columbia. One Republican hopeful, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, was also scheduled to attend.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard .