- The Washington Times - Monday, February 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton will try to extinguish Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’s path to the White House by sweeping the South on Tuesday, hoping a string of victories will finally seal her as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee.

On the campaign trail, the former first lady and President Obama’s top diplomat has even begun to train her fire on Republicans — and Donald Trump in particular — saying she’s looking ahead to fighting the eventual GOP nominee.

“I’m looking forward to those debates because at some point you can’t just say whatever pops in your head if you want to be president of the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said while rallying at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

If she does win the big states Tuesday — and polls show she’s poised to do so — it will be in spite of the campaign finance juggernaut Mr. Sanders has built.

Even as he tried to recover from a disastrous showing in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, he reported that the money is rolling in.

Recognizing the Sanders threat poised by fundraising, Mrs. Clinton’s team sent out an email Friday, pleading with her backers to donate more, and warned them what happened in New Hampshire, when the former secretary of state lost by double-digits after being outspent nearly 3-to-1 by the Sanders campaign.

“It’s amazing that 800,000 people have chipped in to own a piece of this campaign, but with just four days left until Super Tuesday, we can’t ignore the fact that we’re really being outspent in key states,” Dennis Cheng, Mrs. Clinton’s national finance director, wrote in an email. “The Sanders campaign is outspending us on television by hundreds of thousands of dollars in Minnesota and Oklahoma, and they’re more than doubling our spending in Colorado.”

The Democratic race has been fought chiefly over Mr. Obama’s legacy, with Mrs. Clinton vowing she’ll keep the pace on his agenda, even as Mr. Sanders calls for a political revolution to go beyond what Mr. Obama has done on health care, taxes on the wealthy and a host of other Democratic priorities.

At her rally Monday afternoon Mrs. Clinton only mentioned Mr. Sanders once — saying his proposal for free public university didn’t make sense because nobody in America should be taxed to send Mr. Trump’s children to college — an exact line she frequently uses.

“I think people can afford [college] — upper class, rich people — they should pay,” Mrs. Clinton said.

“I’m not going to tax you and your family to send Donald Trump’s youngest child to college for free,” she said to wild applause and cheers from the crowd.

Mrs. Clinton is counting on minority voters in the heavily Southern slate of states Tuesday to back her, just as they did in a 5-to-1 margin in South Carolina over the weekend.

Like in the Palmetto State, black voters make up more than half of the Democratic electorate in Alabama and Georgia. And in Tennessee, Georgia and Texas, Mrs. Clinton is besting Mr. Sanders by double-digits, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken between Feb. 18 and 25.

Mrs. Clinton also wins the majority of votes among women older than 65 years of age, exit polls show.

Hillary has worked for this nomination, and it’s in the country’s best interest to elect her,” said Ellen Guillen, who has followed Mrs. Clinton’s career since she became first lady in the early nineties. “She’s goal-oriented and has proven she could work with those in the Senate to get things done. Plus, she’s a woman — she’s been told all her life to step back, and she hasn’t done that. Instead, she’s stepped forward.”

Mr. Sanders is pinning his White House aspirations on voting Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Vermont. He’s also looking further down the calendar, hoping he could win future contests in California, Michigan and New York.

Mr. Sanders does very well among younger voters and self-identified independents.

“I love that Bernie is on the non-establishment side of politics, that he doesn’t take money from special interest groups,” said Jadon Salvant, 18, who attended Mrs. Clinton’s George Mason rally, even though he has no plans to vote for her. “It’s important to come to these events and hear everyone out. It’s going to be an important election.”

Mrs. Clinton’s team says it won’t be able to knock Mr. Sanders out March 1, but her campaign hopes to come out at least 100 delegates ahead of Mr. Sanders among the 865 delegates up for grabs.

Mrs. Clinton’s team has acknowledged it will be hard for the former Secretary of State to beat Mr. Sanders in his home-state of Vermont, and they’ll have a tough battle in nearby Massachusetts, although recent polling has her narrowly leading the senator there.

Mr. Sanders‘ team has done less campaigning in the South, and spent the weekend campaigning in Minnesota instead. His campaign aides believe the senator can win his home state, Oklahoma and Minnesota, but admit they have a tougher battle in Massachusetts and Colorado.

On Sunday, in an interview with CBS, Mr. Sanders partially laid out his team’s Super Tuesday goals — four wins, six losses and Massachusetts up for grabs.

“I’m in Minnesota. I think we’re going to win here in Minnesota, I think we’re going to win in Colorado, I think we’re going to win in Oklahoma, I think we’re going to do really well in Massachusetts and I think we’re going to win in Vermont,” Mr. Sanders said. “And I think we’ve got a number of states coming up that we’re going to do extremely well and possibly winning, including California and New York state.”

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