AP: Clinton has delegates to win nomination; Sanders campaign: 'Not so fast'

LOS ANGELES (KTVU/AP) -- As Hillary Clinton was declared the Democrats' presumptive nominee with superdelegates pledging to push her over the total needed for the nomination, her opponent Bernie Sanders stood fast and vowed to a crowd of nearly 10,000 people in San Francisco Monday that he would continue the fight to the July convention.

"If we can win here in California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and do well in New Jersey we're going to go into that convention with enormous momentum," Sanders said to cheers from the crowd.

Clinton, the former Secretary of State, New York senator and First Lady, had a weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count, which showed Clinton reaching the 2,383 delegates needed.

The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted.

While superdelegates will not formally cast their votes for Clinton until the party's July convention in Philadelphia, all those counted in her tally have unequivocally told the AP they will do so.

"We really need to bring a close to this primary process and get on to defeating Donald Trump," said Nancy Worley, a superdelegate who chairs Alabama's Democratic Party and provided one of the last endorsements to put Clinton over the top.

Clinton outpaced Sanders in winning new superdelegate endorsements even after his string of primary and caucus wins in May. Following the results in Puerto Rico, it is no longer possible for Sanders to reach the 2,383 needed to win the nomination based on the remaining available pledged delegates and uncommitted superdelegates.

Sanders said he plans to fight on, promising to make the case to superdelegates that he is better positioned to beat Trump in November.

A recent California Field poll showed Sanders pulling within two points of Hillary Clinton. In matchups against Donald Trump, the Field Poll found Sanders with a 29 point lead over Trump compared to Clinton's 19 point lead, and Sanders has repeatedly cited national polls on the campaign trail.

"In every poll, we beat Trump by wider margins than HIllary Clinton," Sanders said Monday.

Superdelegates can change their minds. But since the start of the AP's survey in late 2015, no superdelegates have switched from supporting Clinton to backing Sanders.

Clinton's victory leads Sanders by more than 3 million cast votes, by 291 pledged delegates and by 523 superdelegates. She won 29 caucuses and primaries to his 21 victories.

That's a far bigger margin than Obama had in 2008, when he led Clinton by 131 pledged delegates and 105 superdelegates at the point he clinched the nomination.

Echoing the sentiments of California Gov. Jerry Brown, who overcame a decades-long rivalry with the Clinton family to endorse her last week, many superdelegates expressed a desire to close ranks around a nominee who could defeat Trump in November.

"It's time to stand behind our presumptive candidate," said Michael Brown, one of two superdelegates from the District of Columbia who came forward in the past week to back Clinton before the city's June 14 primary. "We shouldn't be acting like we are undecided when the people of America have spoken."

After a long primary campaign, Clinton said this past weekend in California she was ready to accept Donald Trump's challenge.

Clinton said electing the billionaire businessman, who has spent months hitting her and her husband with bitingly personal attacks, would be a "historic mistake."

"He is not just unprepared. He is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility," Clinton said last week in a speech that was striking in its forcefulness, previewing a brutal five-month general election campaign to come.

"We're judged by our words and our deeds, not our race, not our ethnicity, not our religion," she said Saturday in Oxnard, California. "So it is time to judge Donald Trump by his words and his deeds. And I believe that his words and his deeds disqualify him from being president of the United States."

"This to me is about saving the country and preventing a third progressive, liberal term, which is what a Clinton presidency would do," House Speaker Paul Ryan told the AP last week after he finally endorsed Trump, weeks after the New Yorker clinched the GOP nomination.

Bernie Sanders also fired away at Trump on Monday as he urged his supporters to work for an historic California primary turnout Tuesday.

KTVU spoke with Sen. Sanders and got his reaction to the AP's delegate count at his 'Future To Believe In' event at San Francisco's Crissy Field on Monday night.

“I think it's premature for anybody to say it's over and insulting frankly to the people of California, voting to voice their opinion as to which candidate should be Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Again, I think it is premature, up to the people. This is not me; it is the Democratic National Committee [they] may or may not change their mind.”


– U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ spokesman, Michael Briggs, on Monday issued the following statement:

“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer.

“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. 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.

“Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”

 

The question for Sanders is whether young people and independents who typically have low, unreliable turnout will be able to turn around the election.

In San Francisco, there were signs that more Californians are coming to the polls.

"We're seeing 18 percent more voters here compared to 2008 and we've issued 18 percent more vote by mail ballots this election than in November 2015," said John Arntz, San Francisco's Director of Elections.

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