NATION POLITICS ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Former President Bill Clinton stumps for Hillary Clinton at the United Farm Workers' convention, and Bernie Sanders campaigns in Southern California.

  • Hillary Clinton says she will look widely for a vice-presidential pick
  • Bernie Sanders supporters sue to extend California's voter registration deadline
  • Clinton has plenty of allies in California neighborhoods
  • Sanders endorses the challenger of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sanders avoids criticizing Clinton

Bernie Sanders, hurtling toward a series of primaries that will almost certainly end his presidential bid, avoided criticizing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton during a campaign rally in Irvine on Sunday night.

Instead, the Vermont senator railed against Republicans, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, the wealthy, corporations and the media. And he repeatedly called for a political revolution to fix the nation’s woes, which include a “rigged” economy and a “corrupt” campaign finance system.

“It looks like the American people in fact are sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics. And it looks like the American people are ready to transform our country in very profound ways,” he told several thousand raucous supporters at the outdoor rally. “… Given the nature of American economics and politics today, no president can do it alone. We need a political revolution. This is a fight we have to wage together.”

Sanders has won 20 state primaries and caucuses, but he is badly trailing Clinton in the total vote and the delegate tally. Clinton is fewer than 100 delegates shy of winning the Democratic nomination, and is expected to clinch it on June 7, when California and five other states hold primaries.

In recent appearances in California, Sanders acknowledged that he faced a steep hill to winning the Democratic nomination. On Sunday, he didn’t once mention the race for the nomination.

Instead, he laid out his policy priorities, including tuition-free college, universal healthcare, expanded Social Security, paid family and medical leave, equal pay and investments in infrastructure and inner cities.

He mentioned several areas where he and Clinton differ, notably trade and the Iraq war. In the past, he typically used these items as opportunities to draw contrasts with Clinton. But he did not on Sunday evening, instead only mentioning her by name twice when he highlighted recent polls that show that he fares better against Donald Trump than Clinton does in a general election matchup.

“If the Democratic Party wants the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, and we all know for the future of this country, we’ve got to defeat Donald Trump, it will be our campaign that defeats Donald Trump,” he said, citing an NBC poll released Sunday that showed Clinton beating Trump by 3 points and Sanders beating Trump by 15 points.

Early polling is not predictive, which Sanders seemed to acknowledge when he added, “Polls go up and polls go down.”

“What is most important in terms of understanding which campaign will decisively defeat Trump is you,” he told the diverse cheering crowd of students, young families and senior citizens. “Look around here, and what you will see here in Irvine is what I have seen all over this country, and that is millions of people that are prepared to stand up and fight back, people who are prepared to take on Wall Street, take on the greed of corporate America, take on the fossil fuel industry, take on the pharmaceutical industry.”

The message offers a preview of the tone Sanders will take as he heads into the Democratic National Convention with more than 1,500 delegates.

“There is nothing I have said this evening that is not supported by the vast majority of the American people. Nothing is radical,” he said. “But together we have got to create a government that listens to us, not just wealthy campaign contributors. That is what this campaign is about.”

Bernie Sanders softens criticism of Hillary Clinton, but argues that he'd be the strongest Democratic nominee

Sen. Bernie Sanders is seeking a win in California’s June 7 presidential primary, and he’s tinkering with the path toward it.

At a rally in Vista in northern San Diego County, Sanders put the brakes on his customary criticism of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. He omitted his usual criticism of her for not backing a $15-per-hour national minimum wage, and for failing to join him in support of a carbon tax to fight climate change.

In only one paragraph, he dispensed with his criticism of her for allowing super PACs to raise money for her benefit and for taking donations from Wall Street employees.

His pitch instead appealed to Democratic desires to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. He encouraged Democrats, as he has before, to “take a hard look” at who would be the strongest Democratic candidate.

He first leaned on national polls that show him doing better against Trump than does Clinton — although general election matchups at this point in the campaign are untrustworthy.

Then he noted that poll numbers can change, and he suggested Democrats take a look at the enthusiasm his candidacy has generated, particularly among younger voters.

“The reason we are the strongest campaign is because of you and millions of people who have reached the conclusion it is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics,” he told thousands of supporters. “Anyone who looks at Secretary Clinton’s campaign ... understands that the enthusiasm and the energy and the drive is with us.”

But that was one of few mentions of Clinton as Sanders looked to encourage his committed voters to turn out. After leaving Vista, Sanders headed to Irvine for a second rally there.

Bernie Sanders supporters sue to have California's voter registration extended until primary

 (Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images)
(Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images)

A federal lawsuit alleging widespread confusion over California's presidential primary rules asks that voter registration be extended past Monday's deadline until the day of the state's primary election on June 7.

"Mistakes are being made," said William Simpich, an Oakland civil rights attorney who filed the lawsuit Friday.

At issue is whether voters understand the rules for the presidential primary, which differ from those governing other elections in California.

Hillary Clinton says her husband could work in her administration, and her running mate could be an outsider

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said Sunday she would consider putting her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to work in her administration on the economy and creating jobs.

"I am going to ask my husband, who has a great track record in creating jobs, putting people to work, revitalizing communities, to be in an advisory role working with me, working with our cabinet, to try to figure out what we can do," Clinton said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "You know, every first lady has taken on special projects. And I think my husband's understanding of how to get this economy moving in places that have been left behind will be incredibly valuable."

Clinton was also asked about her choice of a vice-presidential candidate and the possibility that media mogul Mark Cuban might be a postulant. 

Clinton said she thought a businessman as vice president might be a good idea.

"We should look widely and broadly," Clinton said. "It's not just people in elective office. It is successful businesspeople. I am very interested in that."

In Southern California stops, Bill Clinton pleads Hillary Clinton's case -- and begs voters to vote for her

As he coursed across California on Saturday, Bill Clinton had two imperatives: to persuade undecided voters that his wife Hillary isn’t part of the dreaded establishment — and to convince her partisans to cast the ballots that could cinch the Democratic presidential nomination.

At events at high schools in Chula Vista and Pomona, the former president largely ignored his wife’s Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, in favor of a few gibes in the direction of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

He derided Trump’s planned wall on the Mexican border and said his campaign theme reflected a desire to turn back on the social gains of recent generations.

“ ‘Make America Great Again’ is another way of saying mostly how great it’s been” in the past, Clinton said in Pomona.

“If you believe that, that’s your choice,” he said, adding: “America wasn’t so great the way it used to be.”

Most of Clinton’s pitches weren't aimed at a general election opponent but at California’s primary on June 7, a little more than two weeks away.

Without naming Sanders, Clinton suggested his characterization of Hillary Clinton as “an establishment figure blocking change” was off-base.

“Let me remind you of something,” he said. “Being on the right side of the change issue for your whole life does not make you the establishment candidate.”

Before enthusiastic audiences at both locales, Clinton spoke to a persistent fear among his wife’s supporters: that voters will figure she’s got the nomination locked up and will sit home, giving Sanders an opening to defeat her in the last big state. 

That would not cost her the nomination, but would send her to the convention more wounded than if she finished the primary season on a winning note.

“We need you to support Hillary on June the 7th,” he said in Chula Vista. “She needs to go into the convention with the wind at her back.”

He repeated that sentiment as he spoke to a second crowd in Chula Vista that had listened to his speech from an overflow area.

“Please vote,” he said. He noted that he had not officially claimed the 1992 nomination until he won California, and said Hillary Clinton was in the same position.

“That means we cannot let people let up,” he said.

Clinton, who also spoke at a private fundraiser in San Diego County, will campaign Sunday in the Central Valley before heading to Northern California.

Hillary Clinton, who was in Florida on Saturday, is due back in California mid-week for multiple campaign events.

cathleen.decker@latimes.com

Clinton's California advantage over Sanders: her allies living in your neighborhood

Two Hillary Clinton surrogates, U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, left, and Mayor Eric Garcetti, both of Los Angeles, meet before a Nevada rally for Clinton in February. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Two Hillary Clinton surrogates, U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, left, and Mayor Eric Garcetti, both of Los Angeles, meet before a Nevada rally for Clinton in February. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Bernie Sanders is winning the visuals in the fight for California's presidential vote. Every one of his events draws enthusiastic crowds numbering in the adoring thousands, demonstrating support that he hopes will translate into momentum.Hillary Clinton’s campaign events are by design more intimate, featuring hundreds of supporters in venues selected  to show her personal side.  

But that visual contrast is only one — and historically not a determinative — measure of support. Another is the house-by-house, community group-by-community group warfare being waged in a far less visible way across the state.

In that, Clinton has the advantage, with her army of elected officials and other elements of the Democratic establishment, all trying to persuade their supporters to side with the front-runner.

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