California Counts

A collaboration between Capital Public Radio, KQED, KPCC and KPBS to cover the 2016 elections in California.

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Former President Bill Clinton Campaigns For Hillary At Sacramento State

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is beginning to turn her attention to the general election, but both she and Bernie Sanders consider California key to finally closing the book on the primary race.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned throughout California on his wife’s behalf over the weekend and yesterday. At a rally of about a 1,000 people at Sacramento State, he laid out the stakes.

"If she wins California, as you voted for me, it maximizes the chances that we go into this convention in a tent to be unified, and we come out of it strong," he says.

Sanders says he’ll continue campaigning to the convention, and he’s betting on California to keep him in the conversation. The Senator has spent the better part of May in the state and just added more stops, says the campaign’s national press secretary Symone Sanders – no relation.

"I think California’s important because it’s a bigger delegate amount," she says. "So, yeah, we want to win California, and we think we can. We think it’s ripe territory."

Perhaps that’s why President Clinton went after a key Sanders demographics during his trip: young voters. Nearly all of his rallies took place at high schools or universities. At Sac State, President Clinton never mentioned Sanders by name, but contrasted the two candidates’ college-affordability plans.

"We got a system that doesn’t require the state to come up with money it doesn’t have or won’t give, and we can still let people get out of college debt-free," Clinton says.

There was a lot of gray hair in the crowd, but also some young voters. Anthony Arreola graduated from Sacramento State on Saturday. He says he’s undecided.

"I like Bernie Sanders ideas, but I think Hillary Clinton has a much better chance of getting stuff done," Arreola says.

Clinton was more than an hour late for his own rally. He was meeting with a popular California politician, a bitter rival from his 1992 presidential bid.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s office says the two discussed the campaign, not an endorsement.

 Bill Clinton AN 20160523 2 PFormer President Bill Clinton campaigns on his wife's behalf at Sacramento State on May 23, 2016. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio