Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to wrap up the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination by late Tuesday or early Wednesday -- regardless of whether she wins in California.
“We’re going to go all the way to the finish line,” Clinton said hopefully to CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview aired by CNN on Sunday morning. “After Tuesday, I am going to do everything I can to reach out to try to unify the Democratic Party, and I expect Sen. Sanders to do the same.”
Clinton needs just 71 more delegates to put her over the top in the race for the nomination, and she almost certainly will pick up far more than that in New Jersey Tuesday evening, hours before the primary vote is concluded in delegate-rich California, where 546 delegates are on the line.
But democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders continued to argue that Clinton was only kidding herself if she thinks the will throw in the towel before he makes his final case at the national convention in July. Clinton will enter the convention with at least 2,383 “pledged” and “super” delegates she will need to claim the nomination on the first ballot.
However, Sanders believes he can convince hundreds of “super” delegates or party leaders attending the convention to switch their allegiance from Clinton to Sanders, especially if he prevails in the sprawling, racially diverse Golden State and continues to do better than Clinton in hypothetical polling matchups with Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
“We don’t know what the world is going to be like four weeks from now, five weeks, so let’s not forget,” Sanders told Tapper. “The Democratic convention is at the end of July. That’s a long time from today.”
And on a more ominous note, Sanders insisted that if Clinton does prevail in the delegate county, it would be up to her – not him – to try to win many of Sanders’s true-believer supporters to her side.
After months of bashing Clinton as a tool of Wall Street who accepted millions of dollars in speaking fees and campaign contributions, and as the embodiment of the Democratic Party status quo, Sanders said today that it would take a lot of convincing for liberal Democrats and independents to rally behind her. Numerous polls show that most of Sanders’ supporters don’t trust and don’t like Clinton, and that as many as a third of them would not vote for her under any circumstances.
“The idea that I can snap my fingers and have millions of supporters kind of march in line, that is not what our effort is about,” Sanders told Tapper on the same CNN broadcast. “I think if I am not the nominee – and we’re going to fight to become the nominee – it is Secretary Clinton’s job to explain to those people why she should get their support.”
“Secretary Clinton is going to have to make the convincing argument to them that how can it be she is getting huge amounts of money from Wall Street and other powerful special interests and she is going to stand up and fight for them,” Sanders added.
Sanders also seemed to go out of his way today to renew his sharp criticism of Clinton for voting as a U.S. senator in 2002 to support the invasion of Iraq and then encouraging President Obama to support the toppling Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi while she was secretary of state – a move that destabilized Libya and paved the way for infiltration by terrorists hostile to the U.S. But when pressed to say whether he would work with Clinton to defeat Trump regardless of the outcome of the Democratic primary battle, Sanders said simply, “Yes.”
It was once inconceivable that Clinton would lose in California, a state that strongly backed her in 2008 in the final weeks of her unsuccessful contest with Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. And for much of this year’s primary campaign season, Clinton has held sizeable, double-digit leads over Sanders.
But the race has tightened in recent weeks, as Sanders has poured more and more time and money into the campaign. A new survey by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California shows the two locked in a statistical tie, with Sanders holding a one-point lead over Clinton, 44 percent to 43 percent.
As usual, Sanders has garnered most of his support among younger voters, including the fast growing Latino and Asian-American populations -- many of whom are new voters. Sanders’ 10-month investment of time and resources in California has paid off big dividends by attracting a far more racially diverse group of supporters than he was able to attract in most other states – where his supporters were typically white college students and younger voters.
However, Dan Schnur, the Los Angeles Times poll director, cautioned that Sanders’ appeal to young voters and independents in California could be a double-edged sword, because young voters are harder to turn out than older people are. Even if many of them turn out, that won’t be enough unless they have been properly instructed to request a Democratic ballot.
“That is not to say he [Sanders] can’t pull it off, but this may be the biggest voter mobilization challenge California has seen in many, many years,” Schnur told the Los Angeles Times.
Clinton could still pull out a narrow victory in California, and she is being helped to some extent by the endorsement of the highly popular Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, a one-time ardent political opponent of Clinton’s husband. But the final days of the California primary contest have become little more than background music to the blistering exchanges between Clinton and Trump – who will face off this fall in the general election campaign assuming Clinton finally shakes loose of Sanders’s challenge.
Over the weekend, Clinton and Trump continued to snarl at each other from afar, with Clinton continuing to make the case that Trump lacks the “temperament” to be commander in chief and Trump insisting that Clinton is “guilty as hell” of violating federal rules against using private email servers to transmit sensitive documents, and that she “has to go to jail.”
During an appearance today on ABC News’ This Week, Clinton brushed off Trump’s attacks on her improper use of email --which were documented in a recent State Department Inspector General’s report – as “typical Trumpism.”