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In Democratic race, California’s delegate haul still up for grabs

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton inched closer to the party’s nomination with primary wins in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the weekend. But she and Sen. Bernie Sanders are neck-and-neck in the Golden State, which boasts the largest delegate prize of the election cycle. As Californians prepare to head to the polls Tuesday night, both candidates are going all-in. John Yang reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And now to politics.

    As we heard earlier, we have just one day until the last big primary day of the 2016 election cycle. Hillary Clinton won weekend primaries in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, pushing her closer to the Democratic Party nomination.

    But she and rival Bernie Sanders are all in in California, the biggest delegate prize on the line.

    Our John Yang is in the Golden State and he brings us this report.

  • JOHN YANG:

    One final day, one final chance to make the sale in California. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fanned out across the state today. Clinton’s just a handful of delegates shy of clinching the Democratic nomination, counting both pledged and superdelegates.

  • HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    Tomorrow is a really big day, everybody.

    Yes, well, let’s hope it is.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    I would be deeply honored and humbled for it to be Hillary day.

  • JOHN YANG:

    She will likely claim the delegates she needs before polls close on the West Coast, but she’s working to avoid losing a potentially embarrassing loss in the biggest state of all.

    Hillary Clinton has had a laser-like focus on California, cutting short a campaign trip to New Jersey to add events here. And it’s been a family affair. Her husband, the former president, has a number of events here in the Bay Area today, while she’s focusing on Southern California.

    Her statewide, full-court press aims to solidify her support among voters like these in Oakland.

  • KATHERINE HAYNES SANSTAD, Clinton Supporter:

    What’s needed is a pragmatic approach to working with others who can make things happen. And I think that Hillary does. Do I love her? Eh. Do I think she can get the job done? Absolutely.

  • EZRA BRODER, Hillary Clinton Supporter:

    I have a child that’s due next month, and I think it’d be great for the first two presidents in my child’s life to be an African-American man and a female.

  • JOHN YANG:

    At a news conference today, Sanders said that the nomination contest isn’t over yet.

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    We have 475 pledged delegates coming up. And my job in the next 24 hours is to do everything that I can to win those delegates.

  • JOHN YANG:

    The delegate math may be against him, but the Vermont senator still has plenty of supporters who say they feel the Bern.

  • WOMAN:

    He seems like a genuine guy. And, you know, I’m in all my student loan debt. So that is one of the main reasons, is the student loan thing.

  • CESAR CASTILLO, Sen. Bernie Sanders Supporter:

    I think his domestic policy of wealth redistribution, focus on education, health care and making those things a priority are the best option that we have right now.

  • JOHN YANG:

    While the two Democrats mount one last battle, Republican nominee-to-be Donald Trump was off the campaign trail today. But he still defended his latest attack on a Latino judge presiding over one of the Trump University lawsuits.

  • DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate:

    Let me just tell you. It’s very simple. I have had horrible rulings. I have been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall.

  • JOHN YANG:

    That’s drawing fire from top Republicans.

  • CHUCK TODD, Moderator, “Meet The Press”:

    Is it a racist statement?

  • SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader:

    I couldn’t disagree more with what he had to say.

  • CHUCK TODD:

    Do you think it’s a racist statement to say?

  • SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

    I don’t agree with what he had to say. This is a man who was born in Indiana. All of us came here from somewhere else.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Trump told FOX News: “All I want to do is figure out why I’m being treated unfairly by a judge.”

    Criticism aside, Trump doesn’t have to worry about the results in California tomorrow. All the focus will be on the contest between Clinton and Sanders.

    Here in the shadow of the fog-enshrouded Golden Gate Bridge — trust me, it really is there — they’re preparing for Sanders’ final pre-primary event. It’s going to be as much a concert as it is a rally. His opening acts include Dave Matthews, the band Fishbone, Danny Glover and the scholar Cornel West — Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you, John.

    So, but tell us, how has Bernie Sanders been able to keep it so close? We know it wasn’t always like this.

  • JOHN YANG:

    That’s right. They really decided that they were going to focus on California. They felt they could do well here if they spent a lot of time here.

    And he has spent a majority of his time here since the end of May. And it appears to be paying off. He’s showing in the pre-primary polls for the first time this season that he’s making inroads among minority voters, who have tended to support Clinton in the past. The polls show him splitting Latinos with Hillary Clinton, and actually beating her among Asian-Americans.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    John, we also know that tomorrow night other states are voting. Hillary Clinton could go over the top when these other state’ results come in, in places like New Jersey. How will California even matter for Bernie Sanders if that happens?

  • JOHN YANG:

    Well, according to the Sanders camp, California being so big, so diverse, they think that, if she loses here, if they were to beat her here, they could make the argument to superdelegates that he’s more electable.

    But their big fear is that, indeed, Hillary Clinton goes over the top while voters are still going to polls here in California, and that the Sanders supporters who haven’t gone to the polls yet get discouraged and don’t go to the polls.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What are some of the Sanders supporters saying about what they’d do if he doesn’t win the nomination?

  • JOHN YANG:

    A couple of them said that they could not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances, that they were going to vote for the Green Party. But they are also savvy enough to know that, here in California, very unlikely that it would go Republican under any circumstances, so that they would be able to make a statement by not voting for Hillary Clinton, while they were confident or felt assured that they weren’t going to help Donald Trump.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    John Yang reporting for us from California, thank you, John.

    Thanks, Judy.

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