LONG BEACH, Calif. — Hillary Clinton wants to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. Just not in Long Beach.
Clinton has spent the last three decades waiting for the moment when she could claim the mantle as the the first woman to become the presumptive presidential nominee of a major political party. So when CNN, the Associated Press and others called her race against Bernie Sanders on Monday night, one would think she would celebrate.
Clinton, worried that calling the race on Monday night would make her supporters less likely to vote in the California and New Jersey primaries Tuesday, walked a fine line at her rally here.
“I got to to tell you, according to the news we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” Clinton said. “We have six elections (Tuesday) and we are going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.
“So I am asking each and every one of you, how many of you have already voted by mail? How many of you have a ballot at home on your kitchen counter? You could send it in tonight or even better, go to the polls tomorrow and take your family and your friends.”
Clinton’s strategy did not change after the event. CNN tried to ask Clinton about the race being called seven times on the rope line. Not once did the former secretary of state respond.
Clinton’s campaign was not happy the race was called on Monday and had hoped most news networks would wait until Tuesday — when voters go to the polls — to make the official call.
That was part strategy — they don’t want the vote to be suppressed — and part planning in that Clinton has an event in Brooklyn on Tuesday night where her campaign had hoped she would be able to react for the first time to the race being called.
Instead, Clinton reacted at Long Beach Community College.
But aides say that Clinton will deliver a speech that directly addresses the historic nature of her candidacy on Tuesday and begin to offer olive branches to Sanders’ supporters.
“We look forward to Tuesday night, when Hillary Clinton will clinch not only a win in the popular vote, but also the majority of pledged delegates,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manger said in a statement.
Celebs: We haven’t won yet
Even Clinton surrogates walked the line on Monday, pushing voters to get out and vote, while nodding that the race had been called.
“No matter what the AP says about who won the nomination, we need folks to vote tomorrow on all the races,” singer and songwriter John Legend said at a concert for Clinton on Monday night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
“Do not let that keep you away,” actress Eva Longoria said of the race being called. “We need California.”
On Monday, before the race was called, Clinton repeatedly told reporters that she would have “more to say about” the history she is slated to make on Tuesday.
But when asked directly about women who cry at her events when they realize she could become the first woman president, Clinton grew more emotional.
“I’ve seen it for more than a year,” Clinton said. “My supporters are passionate. They are committed. They have voted for me in great numbers across our country for many reasons, but among those reasons is their belief that having a woman president will make a great statement, a historic statement about what kind of country we are, what we stand for.”
She added, “It’s really emotional.”
Sanders mum at rally
At his own concert and rally in San Francisco, Sanders did not address that Clinton was being named the presumptive nominee.
But he continued to make the case for why he should be the Democratic nominee and barreled ahead with his plan of continuing to the convention. And he did not back off Clinton, calling her out on several occasions for their numerous policy differences, including fracking.
“If there is a large voter turnout, if working people and young people come out in big numbers and demand change, we are going to win big tomorrow,” he said Monday, with the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge emerging from the fog behind him. “If we can win here in California, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Jersey, we’re going to go into that convention with enormous momentum.”
Sanders’ spokesman, Michael Briggs, said the media rushed to judgment.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination,” Briggs said. “She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then.
They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race.”AlertMe