Clinton declines California debate
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Arizona newspaper backs Democrat in dead heat Senate race MORE is declining to debate rival Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Live coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Miami Herald endorses Gillum for governor MORE in California ahead of the state’s June 7 primary.

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“We have declined Fox News’s invitation to participate in a debate in California,” Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, said in a statement. “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 TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE 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,” she continued.

The Vermont senator had been pushing Clinton to debate before the June 7 primary. California offers 475 pledged Democratic delegates, the largest prize of any state.

Sanders released a statement Monday evening saying he is "disappointed but not surprised" by Clinton's decision.

“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," Sanders said. "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.”
 
Fox News also released a statement. 

“Naturally, Fox News is disappointed that Secretary Clinton has declined our debate invitation, especially given that the race is still contested and she had previously agreed to a final debate before the California primary,” Bill Sammon, vice president of Fox News and the network's Washington managing editor, said.

In a statement last week, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator accepted an invitation from Fox News to debate "with the understanding that we can reach mutual agreement on the debate moderators, the format and other details.” Weaver said both campaigns in January agreed to hold a debate in May in California, adding that the Clinton campaign has “balked at keeping that pledge.”

Clinton’s decision to pass on the debate comes days after a CNN interview in which the former secretary of State said she thinks the race for the Democratic nomination is all but over, saying there's "no way" she won't be the party's nominee. The Sanders camp fired back at her comment and said that millions of Americans have “growing doubts” about her candidacy.

Updated 8:25 p.m.