ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders dueled for support Tuesday ahead of California’s presidential primary, as the Vermont senator showed few signs of backing off his efforts to boost his longshot odds for the nomination.
Sanders’ campaign launched a $1.5 million ad buy in the state and announced it would seek a recanvass in last week’s Kentucky primary, where he trailed Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent. The recanvass, which is not a recount, involves reviewing the election results but is unlikely to change the results or the awarding of delegates.
The Democratic hopefuls campaigned in California, where Clinton hopes to make a statement in the June 7 contest that will effectively end the primaries and encourage the party to coalesce around her candidacy. Clinton is targeting Latino and black voters, who have typically backed her candidacy is high numbers, as she campaigns across the state.
“I can’t do any of this without your help,” Clinton told a crowd of supporters in Los Angeles. “California, I need your help.”
Sanders, meanwhile, unveiled new advertising that will appear in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, underscoring his intense focus on the state. The ad urged voters to choose a “new direction” for the Democratic Party.
“If we win big in California, we’re going to go marching into the Democratic convention with a lot of momentum,” Sanders said to cheers at a rally on the outskirts of Disneyland. “And if we go marching into the Democratic convention with a lot of momentum, we’re going to march out with the Democratic nomination. And if we march out with the Democratic nomination, Donald Trump is toast.”
Entering the final contests in June, Clinton leads Sanders by 271 pledged delegates according to a count by The Associated Press but the self-described democratic socialist has vowed to soldier on and amass as many delegates as possible.
Clinton holds a substantial lead with party leaders and elected officials, called superdelegates, and is on track to clinch the nomination through the combination of pledged delegates and superdelegates after contests in California, New Jersey and four other states on June 7.
But despite the math, some Democrats are concerned that Sanders’ tactics could make it more difficult to unite in the summer. In an AP interview on Monday, Sanders said the process of crafting the party’s platform and holding its convention could be “messy,” adding, “Democracy is messy.”
Sanders held a rally at a convention center in Anaheim, where he asked supporters, “Anybody here making a living wage from Disney?” The crowd shouted back, “No!” He said Disney offered an example of a “rigged economy” in which the corporation generates large profits but workers fail to get ahead.
He does not make as many references to Clinton in his stump speech as he did weeks ago. But in Anaheim, the crowd booed when he told them that Clinton “has a number of super pacs and she is also raising significant sums from Wall Street.”
As she has for weeks, Clinton avoided all mentions of her primary opponent while campaigning in the state. Instead, she unveiled a new line of attack against Republican nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump, hammering him on his past statements over the housing crisis and suggesting that he paid nothing in taxes.
“Trump economics is a recipe for lower wages, fewer jobs and more debt,” she told union workers in Los Angeles. “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll never let Wall Street bankrupt Main Street again.”
Clinton devoted the bulk of her remarks to criticizing Trump’s foreign policy record, his economic policies and personal finances, an approach she has taken as she pivots to the general election.
Trump shot back in a statement, saying he’s “made a lot of money in down markets.”
“Frankly, this is the kind of thinking our country needs, understanding how to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation.”
Lerer reported from Los Angeles.
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