Democratic US presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday raced to fend off rival US Senator Bernie Sanders on the eve of Kentucky’s Democratic primary, hoping to avoid another show of weakness as she heads into an almost certain general-election fight with Republican US presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
The fast-paced day, which included a combative exchange with an audience member who objected to her criticism of Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, might have suggested a candidate fighting for survival.
Instead, Clinton is all but certain to claim her party’s nomination. However, in the meantime, she would prefer to stop losing primaries, even if they are of little mathematical consequence.
Clinton’s husband, former US President Bill Clinton, won Kentucky in both 1992 and 1996, and Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced then-US senator Barack Obama in Kentucky in the 2008 primary. However, this year’s primary here is hard to predict: Polling has been scarce, and both she and Sanders have lavished attention on the state.
“I’m excited about the primary, but we got to turn a lot of people out,” Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “And I will tell you this: I am not going to give up on Kentucky in November.”
Sanders campaigned in Puerto Rico on Monday, but over the weekend, he made several stops in Kentucky, including visits to Frankfort, Elizabethtown and Bowling Green.
At a rally in Paducah on Sunday, Sanders said that he was the stronger candidate to defeat Trump. He also took aim at Bevin, a foe of the Affordable Care Act, saying they had stark differences over healthcare and education.
“If anybody in this room or in this state wants to know what kind of president I will be, take a look at Governor Bevin and what he is doing,” Sanders said. “And then think about the exact opposite, and that is Bernie Sanders.”
Kentucky’s primary was to be one of two Democratic contests yesterday. Oregon, which votes by mail, required ballots to be received by last night, and the state’s demographics favored Sanders. Kentucky is more competitive and it posed another test of how much Hillary Rodham Clinton can appeal to white working-class voters, who have been receptive to Sanders’ populist message.
On Monday, Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed to voters who have fond memories of her husband’s administration.
“I want to help bring back the kind of economy that worked for everybody in the 1990s,” she said.
Losses in Kentucky and Oregon would not imperil her grip on the Democratic nomination, but she is in the awkward position of running two campaigns at once: urging voters to turn out in the primary, while also laying out arguments geared toward a face-off with Trump in November.
Campaigning in Kentucky, Hillary Rodham Clinton attacked Sanders by saying he voted against the auto industry bailout, although Sanders’ record is not as clear-cut as she suggested.
At the same time, Hillary Rodham Clinton devoted considerable attention to Trump, criticizing him over issues like taxes and foreign policy.
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