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Clinton, Sanders Campaign In California Ahead Of Tuesday's Primary


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We'll begin today with politics. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are campaigning today in California. It's one of six states with contests in the Democratic race on Tuesday. Clinton is all but assured of securing enough delegates to clinch the nomination by Tuesday.

We're also awaiting results from Puerto Rico, where Democrats voted today. That contest could get Clinton very close to the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. We'll have more on delegates in a moment, but first to the campaign trail in California. NPR's Tamara Keith is traveling with the Clinton campaign in Vallejo, Calif. - literally. She's actually on the bus right now. Tam, where does the race stand there?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: The race is very, very close. Several public polls that are out in the last week or so show that Clinton and Sanders are within the margin of error. And you can tell because the candidates are both campaigning their hearts out here in California. They have television ads up, and they are just really fighting hard. And Bernie Sanders, today - or over the weekend said that he believes this is going to be a contested convention. So he is fighting especially hard, wanting California to send a signal.

MARTIN: Now, Hillary Clinton has done very well in the bigger, more diverse states that have voted so far, like New York and Florida and Texas. California certainly qualifies as a big, diverse state. So where is Bernie Sanders getting his support from to keep it so competitive?

KEITH: There are a couple of things going on in California. One, it is a very liberal state, and Bernie Sanders is a very liberal candidate. Also, he tends to do pretty well with Latinos, and California has a large Latino population. Latinos, in a recent poll, basically split between Clinton and Sanders. He's doing well with white independent voters and, of course, with young voters. And the other thing to consider is that California has essentially an open primary. Both Democrats and decline-to-state voters - or no party affiliation voters - they can request a Democratic ballot and vote in the Democratic primary. And he tends to do well in open primaries.

MARTIN: Now Hillary Clinton, though, does seem to be able to win the nomination even if she loses California. So why is the race there still so important?

KEITH: Clearly, Hillary Clinton is way ahead in both pledged delegates and superdelegates. And she is likely - very likely to clinch the nomination based on those - on both kinds of delegates before the polls even close here in California. California is very important to Bernie Sanders because he wants to go to a contested convention and make a case to these so-called superdelegates that he is the better candidate to take on Donald Trump. For Hillary Clinton, California is important because it sends - it would send a message. It would let her end on a high note and, in theory, make it easier for her to argue that she has really won the nomination.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Tamara Keith in California. Tam, thank you.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.