With Clinton’s Shift to Race With Trump, Long Debate Season Ends

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton sparred in October in the first of nine Democratic debates.

By BYRON TAU – – –

By forgoing one last debate with her rival Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has shown she has shifted her focus to November’s general election against Donald Trump.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announced Monday evening it would not participate in a Fox News debate in California in advance of that state’s June 7 primary, and instead was preparing for a general election showdown with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

“As we have said previously, we plan to compete hard in the remaining primary states, particularly California, while turning our attention to the threat a Donald Trump presidency poses. We believe that Hillary Clinton’s time is best spent campaigning and meeting directly with voters across California and preparing for a general election campaign that will ensure the White House remains in Democratic hands,” said Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

“I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done in effect. There is no way I won’t be,” Mrs. Clinton told CNN last week.

The announcement brings to an end a long season of more than twenty debates — nine for the Democrats, with the last held in Brooklyn last month, and 12 for the larger Republican field, including “undercard” events for lower-polling candidates.

Mr. Sanders continues to campaign hard, though Mrs. Clinton maintains an overwhelming lead in delegates needed to win the nomination at the July convention.

Mrs. Clinton has a 271 delegate lead in pledge delegates, and has the declared support of more than 500 superdelegates. With the support of the superdelegates, she’s less than 100 delegates away from clinching the nomination.

She is on track to become the presumptive nominee on June 7, when Democratic voters in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota will vote in primaries or attend caucuses.

Mr. Sanders said Monday at a rally that he was “ disturbed, but not surprised” that Mrs. Clinton decided not to debate him, noting that her campaign had agreed to a debate schedule that included one additional debate.

As part of negotiations with the Sanders campaign, Mrs. Clinton’s team had previously agreed to a debate schedule which included a 10th debate.

His supporters are making plans for demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in support of his candidacy.

He said in an interview with the Associated Press this week that the convention in Philadelphia could be “messy.”

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