Sanders blasts Clinton at California rally for rejecting debate
© Greg Nash

Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE on Monday night said it’s “a little bit insulting” to California voters that Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE refuses to debate him ahead of the state’s primary.

“I was disturbed, but not surprised, that Secretary Clinton has backed out of the debate,” Sanders said at a rally in Santa Monica, Calif., ahead of the delegate-rich June 7 primary.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think it’s a little bit insulting to the people of California — our largest state — that she is not prepared to have a discussion with me about how she will help the Californians address the major crises that we face,” he continued.

Prior to his rally, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri sent out a statement about the former secretary of State’s decision to decline to debate Sanders.

“We have declined Fox News’ invitation to participate in a debate in California,” Palmieri said. “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.”

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.

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.

Sanders has acknowledged he has an uphill battle in winning the nomination. Clinton is 90 delegates short of the nomination when including superdelegates — unbound party leaders who vote at the national convention — while Sanders needs almost 850 delegates to clinch the nomination, according an Associated Press tally. Despite Clinton's lead, Sanders has vowed to remain in the race and keep fighting for delegates.