‘There is no way I won’t be’ the Democratic nominee, says Hillary Clinton

The Democratic race may still be ongoing, but Hillary Clinton doesn’t harbor much doubt about its outcome. In an interview with CNN, the front-runner declared that she will be the party’s nominee, though rival Sen. Bernie Sanders has given no sign of backing down. For more on what a prolonged primary fight means for Democrats in the fall, Judy Woodruff talks to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum.

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    Now to the race for the White House.

    Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton didn't mince words about the presumptive Republican nominee today. In an interview with CNN, Clinton said that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president.

    Trump drew still other criticism after he responded early this morning to the EgyptAir crash with this tweet — quote — "Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!"

    Clinton responded in the interview, calling Trump's comments reckless and dangerous.

    When asked about her Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton declared the race for the party's nomination over.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That's already done, in effect. There's no way that I won't be.


    But Bernie Sanders has declared that he will keep up the fight on through the last primaries and bring his message to the convention in Philadelphia.

    So, what does that mean for the Democrats' chance in the fall?

    I'm joined by longtime Democratic strategist and professor of politics at University of Southern California Bob Shrum.

    Bob Shrum, thank you very much for being with us.

    After Hillary Clinton said that today, I want to read to you just a portion of what the Sanders camp put out within the last hour. They said: "We expect voters in the remaining contests will disagree, as we do, with what she said." He said — they say that: "Senator Sanders is doing much better than Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in national and state polls. It is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign."

    What do you make of what is going on in the Sanders camp?

  • BOB SHRUM, Democratic Strategist:

    Well, it's not just the Sanders camp.

    This is a kind of natural back-and-forth that goes on at the end of these primary periods, when someone who is behind wants to keep making the case. We went through it in 2008. And some of what Hillary Clinton said was pretty tough. Some of what Barack Obama said was pretty tough, but they managed to put things together afterwards.

    And I think there is a basis for doing that here. I think we will get to that point. But to expect someone who is still running in these primaries, who is trying to win a number of them, and who has a chance to win some of them, to say, oh, yes, I sort of agree with all of this, is a false expectation.

    Hillary Clinton didn't do it. Bernie Sanders won't do it, but, in the end, I think they will get together.


    Is it the right thing for her to do to say right now, I am the nominee?


    Well, she is mathematically the nominee. And the way she was asked that question, I don't think she could have given any other answer.

    One of the interesting things is, I saw her interview characterized as a warning to Sanders. I thought it was an invitation. She was saying, I will do my part to unify the party, he has to do his part.

    And, by the way, he's doing her a couple of favors right now. One of the biggest ones is, he's not on television in California. She's ahead here. If he went on television — I think he has the money to do it — he would threaten that in a serious way, and she would have to spend a lot of money to try to counter it.


    You mean not on television in terms of paid advertising.


    Yes, not on television in terms of paid advertising.

    The weakness of my old consulting background, you say go on TV, you mean buy TV ads.


    Bob Shrum, you have watched politics for a long time. What do you think Bernie Sanders wants as this point?


    Well, I think he probably still wants the nomination. I don't think that's going to happen. He wants to influence the party's platform.

    And I think there's a basis for the two of them to agree on things like the minimum wage, on debt-free college, if not free college for everybody. And I think he probably wants some reforms in the nominating process.

    Like, when he says open the party up and let the people in, I think what he means is independents should be able to vote in all primaries. I suspect he would also like to get rid of — get rid of or modify the superdelegate system.

    And, frankly, that shouldn't be a problem for Secretary Clinton. She won't need those superdelegates in 2020 to get renominated.


    Well, I saw a poll today, somebody quoting a poll saying that, right now, something like 60 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton.

    To what extent is what he's doing potentially going to hurt her campaign in the fall, if she's the nominee?


    Well, at this point, I don't see the kind of sulfurous criticism of her that would hurt in the fall.

    You know, as I said, there was a lot of back-and-forth at the end of 2008. There was a group called the PUMAs who said — women who said they'd never vote for Barack Obama. Almost all of them did.

    So, I think the heat of passion at the moment cools off. I think that Hillary Clinton will want Bernie Sanders to have a role at the convention, and to help bring the Sanders people along, and I think that will happen.

    And I think Sanders is conscious that he's brought so many new people into the process, that they're going to be around for a long time, and that they're going to have real influence. That's part of his legacy. He doesn't want his legacy to be, I'm pretty sure, that he helped elect Donald Trump.


    You don't think then — I heard what you said about you don't hear the kind of sulfurous language.

    But in looking again at the Sanders campaign statement this afternoon, they said it's clear millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.


    Well, that's the kind of thing you say at the end of the process when you're behind.

    I think Hillary Clinton made an argument in 2008 that she would be a much stronger general election candidate than Barack Obama would be, and that he might very well lose to John McCain.

    I just think it's kind of natural. I think we're intrigued by it, in part because she has won the nomination, in part because he has mounted such a vigorous challenge, and in part because the Republican process is over, and all the attention is shifted to the Democrats.

    But I will bet that, at the end of the day, we have a convention where we may have a roll call, and at some point in the roll call, Bernie Sanders will stand up and move to nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation.


    Bob Shrum, joining us from California, somebody who has been watching American politics for a long time, we thank you very much.


    Thanks. Thanks, Judy.

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