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East County News Service

May 24, 2016 (San Diego) – Two weeks before the hotly contested California Democratic primary election on June 7th, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has backed out of her earlier pledge to debate her opponent, Vermont Senator Sanders, in California.

Senator Sanders issued a statement voicing disappointment by Clinton’s refusal to debate in the state with the largest number of delegates in the nation. It reads:

“The state of California and the United States face some enormous crises. Democracy, and respect for the voters of California, would suggest that there should be a vigorous debate in which the voters may determine whose ideas they support. I hope Secretary Clinton reconsiders her unfortunate decision to back away from her commitment to debate. I also would suggest that Secretary Clinton may want to be not quite so presumptuous about thinking that she is a certain winner. In the last several weeks, the people of Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon have suggested otherwise."

Though Clinton still leads by over 200 delegates and substantially more when pledged superdelegates are included, most of her primary and caucus wins were early in the season and predominantly in the south, states Democrats have lost to Republicans in recent elections.  Sanders has shown momentum, winning 20 states including most of the recent contests, some by landslides.  He’s also drawing huge crowds across California compared to Clinton or her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

At a rally this week, Sanders said Clinton’s refusal to debate is “insulting to the people of California – our largest state,” then suggested Clinton is “not prepared to have a discussion with me about how we address the major crises we face.”

But with several recent polls showing her comfortably ahead in California, some by double digit margins, Clinton has little incentive to take stage with Sanders in a debate.

Sanders has been known to score come-from-behind victories in several states where he campaigned hard in the final days before the primary election however, and some two million new voters have registered to vote in California, many of them young people—a core Sanders’ constituency.

Besides California, voters on June 7th will also be casting ballots in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.