The Democratic primary race isn’t wrapped up yet but only one of the two remaining candidates is waging an all-out fight for the nomination.
Hillary Clinton has pivoted her campaign’s focus to the general election, focusing on Republican front-runner Donald Trump as evidenced by her public remarks and the directing of resources to general election battleground states. Meanwhile her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, predicts that the party’s convention in Philadelphia will be “contested.”
Sanders vows to stay in the race despite his admittedly “tough road to climb” to win a majority of delegates. He called on superdelegates in the states that he has won to switch their support from Clinton to him, saying they should “respect the wishes of the people of those states.”
Sanders is holding out hope in Indiana, which votes Tuesday and where the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Sanders trailing Clinton by just four points. He has held seven events there in the past week while Clinton has held just three. She also held no public campaign events three days last week - the sign of a confident candidate.
Sanders is also holding out for California, the delegate rich state, which votes June 7, that awards 548 delegates - 20 percent of the total delegates.
But even if Sanders does well in California, Clinton's delegate lead is large. She leads Sanders by 790 delegates, counting superdelegates, according to an NBC News tally. That number drops to just 321 without superdelegates, but it’s still a difficult number to overcome with one dozen contests left to vote.
What's keeping Sanders going is that he still has enough funds. While his latest fundraising numbers dropped nearly $20 million in one month to $26 million, it’s still an impressive haul and the same amount Clinton raised in April. It’s an amount that can sustain a campaign with just six weeks left in the primary battle. He has cut costs and laid off hundreds of staff to ensure he has the money to compete in the remaining contests.
Meanwhile Clinton is looking ahead to November.
She is hiring state directors in battleground states, with offices being set up in Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado.
Clinton has also hired close adviser Minyon Moore to help Clinton transition to the general election, news first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by NBC News.
Speaking to the Detroit NAACP annual dinner Sunday night, Clinton didn’t mention Sanders at all, instead she focused on her likely Republican opponent, attacking Donald Trump by name.
“We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Donald Trump’s hands,” she said. “We can’t let all the hard work and progress we have achieved over the last seven and a half years be torn away.”
And at a rally in Indianapolis Sunday, she focused on both Trump and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
“So when I hear Donald Trump says what he says or when I Ted Cruz says what he says about Muslims I got to tell you it's not only offensive, it's dangerous. It is absolutely dangerous,” she told the crowd, barely mentioning Sanders.
Clinton is campaigning not only in Ohio on Wednesday, a state that already held its primary but is a critical purple state for winning the White House, but she is also doing a tour through Appalachia, focusing on blue collar jobs. While West Virginia and Kentucky holds its primaries in upcoming weeks, it’s also a part of the country dense with working class white men, a voting bloc that Trump appeals to and Clinton struggles, where she’ll talk about revitalizing coal communities and manufacturing jobs.
Clinton can’t completely shed the primary, though, until Sanders is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination. And if Sanders does well in Indiana Tuesday, or even wins, Clinton will have to continue to run two races: one against Sanders and one against Trump.