COMPTON — Hillary Clinton stood on the cusp Monday of having enough delegates to claim the Democratic presidential nomination, having overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in a pair of weekend elections in the Caribbean.
Yet the former secretary of state barely noted her commanding wins Saturday in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Sunday in Puerto Rico, instead remaining focused on Tuesday’s contests in California and five other states — and a general election matchup to come against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“I am so focused on all the states that are voting tomorrow,” Clinton said. “That is my singular focus. I know there is a lot of work still going on.”
“It’s not over until it’s over, and tomorrow is a really important day, particularly here in California,” she added.
After blowout weekend wins in the two U.S. territories, Clinton is now 23 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.
Clinton won all seven delegates available in the U.S. Virgin Islands and at least 36 of the 60 delegates available in Puerto Rico.
There are four delegates remaining in Puerto Rico, but they cannot be allocated until the vote count there is finished. That won’t happen until Tuesday, because the island’s elections workers took Monday off after counting results until dawn.
Clinton now has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses; Sanders has 1,521.
When including superdelegates, the party insiders who can vote for the candidate of their choice at the party’s summer convention, her lead over Sanders is substantial: 2,360 to 1,567.
AP surveys the superdelegates throughout the primary season to track whom they planned to support at the July convention.
If a superdelegate tells AP they plan to unequivocally support a candidate at the convention in July, the superdelegate is added to that candidate’s tally.
Both Clinton and Sanders spent Monday in California, the biggest prize among the six states voting on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters at a community center in Compton, Clinton said she was on her way to having a clear lead in the popular vote and pledged delegates.
She said that should she become the nominee, she’ll be “reaching out” to Sanders and would do what she could to bring the party together.
President Barack Obama, who bested Clinton in 2008 during her first bid for the Democratic nomination, is preparing to formally endorse her and start aggressively making the case against Trump. White House officials said the announcement could come within days, although not before Tuesday’s elections.
Obama called Sanders on Sunday as he campaigned in California, a Democrat familiar with the call told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private conversation, and would not reveal any details about it.
Obama’s expected declaration comes as no surprise. Last week, he declared bluntly, “it’s almost over” and suggested he was waiting for the Tuesday contests before making his move. While Obama has said he’s stayed on the sideline to ensure voters decide the outcome, “rather than be big-footing the situation,” he’s hardly been silent about his preference.
At key moments, Obama has offered high praise and needed defense of Clinton and little comparable support for Sanders.
Speaking Monday at a press conference outside Oakland, Sanders made the case he was the best candidate to take on Trump in the general election. Asked whether an Obama endorsement of Clinton would affect his campaign, Sanders deflected, saying he was being asked to speculate before an important primary in California.
The Vermont senator’s tone was more subdued Monday than over the weekend, when he said the Democratic convention would be contested if no one wins the nomination based on delegates awarded in the primaries and caucuses.
“Let me just talk to you after the primary here in California, where we hope to win,” Sanders said. “Let’s assess where we are after tomorrow.”