Five things Clinton needs to do to win the California primary

Five things Clinton needs to do to win the California primary
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Club for Growth goes after Cheney in ad, compares her to Clinton Sanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio MORE has a lot on the line when it comes to the California primary.

She’s likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee regardless of the results, but a loss in the Golden State to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProtect women's right to choose how and when they work Senate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (I-Vt.) would end her primary contest on a decidedly sour note, reinforcing perceptions she will head to the fall as a weak candidate.


And even if she wins, some Clinton allies predict the California primary may be closer than once expected, furthering fears of a split in the Democratic Party.

So how does Clinton hold on to California, a state she won easily in the 2008 primary against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work Obama, Springsteen releasing book based on their podcast 10 books that take readers inside the lives of American leaders MORE?

Here are five things she needs to do.

Double down on Latinos, Asians and African-Americans

Clinton is focusing on what has worked best for her throughout her campaign.

While she’s been had difficulty courting white men and young women across racial boundaries, she has successfully wooed Latino and black voters in other states during the primary.

Minorities make up for a good percentage of the population in California. Roughly 40 percent of the state is comprised of Hispanics and the Asian population is large as well at 15 percent.

Clinton has been running phone banks in seven languages to tout her policies and get people to vote.

She also has ads running in the state featuring actor Morgan Freeman and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta as separate appeals to African-American and Latino voters. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has been on the scene, working the vote in the African-American community. 

There are also ads running in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese, according to a Clinton campaign aide. 

Focus on Trump 

Clinton has been spending a majority of her time in California setting her sights on presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE, not Sanders.

And political observers say that if she can articulately lay out a vision for how she can defeat him in November, voters are likely to help her seal the deal in the Golden State. 

“She has to continue to make the case about how she can beat Trump,” said Thad Kousser, a professor of political science at the University of California San Diego. “She has to come up with a defense and clearly state why she’s the best candidate for November.” 

Be the 'Wonk in chief'

Clinton can hit Sanders’s weak spot with lots of detailed policy plans. But political observers say where she can really hit him—and has been going after the Vermont senator—is when she accentuates the differences between her policies on guns and immigration and Sanders’s policies. 

Campaign surrogate Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot at a district event in 2011, and her husband Mark Kelly have helped to promote Clinton's policy on guns. 

“He’s never hesitated to make Clinton wear a New York record on Wall Street. Why let him off the hook for a Vermonter’s record on guns and immigration?” said David Wade, a Democratic strategist who served as Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryNo. 2 State Department official to travel to China amid tensions US and Germany launch climate partnership Biden meets with Merkel in German leader's last official trip to Washington MORE’s longtime chief of staff. 

“Contrary to caricature, California democrats want results not just daydreams,” Wade added. “The last two Democrats elected Governor, Gray Davis and Jerry Brown, both matched proven experience with detailed policy proposals. This is Clinton’s sweet spot and Sanders’s Achilles heel. She can run as the wonk in chief and it actually works in California. It is part of why she won the state in 2008 amid her epic battle with Barack Obama.”

Use Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCourt dismisses GOP suit over proxy voting in House Trump is a complication for Republican hopes in Virginia Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE early and often — particularly in secondary markets. 

Bill Clinton has been used in more than a dozen stops in smaller cities and towns across California.

Last week, he appeared in places like Pomona, Delano, and Chula Vista. 

Using Bill Clinton—the campaign’s most powerful surrogate—is helpful to the campaign, political observers and Democratic strategists say, because voters still think of him fondly.

“The historically large landslide numbers he won in 1992 and 1996 in California set a big standard," Wade said. He's an asset in this state which remembers the 1990s fondly."  

While Trump has been bringing up Bill Clinton’s record and infidelities up often recently, the former president is still able to excite a crowd — often more than his wife. 

“He's still clearly popular, can bring out the donors and the crowds, she hasn't really stopped traffic but I think Bill Clinton still has that potential,” Kousser said.

Leveraging earned media 

Because California air-time is so expensive, Clinton much more than Sanders can use appearances such as the one she made this week on the popular daytime show “Ellen” to make her case without spending much money.

This week, Clinton doled out an initial ad-buy in the high six-figures, according to a campaign aide. But expect to see her and other Clinton operatives tap into earned media across the state.

Because it is highly unusual for California to matter in the Democratic Party, local television “will cover it in a big way,” said Chris Lehane, a veteran presidential campaign aide who served as a senior adviser to the super PAC Ready for Hillary. 

Lehane recommended that Team Clinton continue to make those appearances in television markets like Sacramento. “They’ll all take you up on it because they’re all doing wall-to-wall TV coverage on this primary.”