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Hillary Clinton Campaigns In Illinois Ahead Of Major Primary Contests


As Hillary Clinton looks to hold off Bernie Sanders in tomorrow's contests, she has been campaigning today in her home state of Illinois. NPR's Tamara Keith is traveling with the Clinton campaign and joins us now from Springfield. Hi, Tam.


SHAPIRO: What has Secretary Clinton been doing today to avoid another disappointing result tomorrow?

KEITH: You know, it's really interesting listening to Sam's story and Bernie Sanders campaigning very much against Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton today didn't mention Bernie Sanders and in many ways, her stops felt - you don't want to say this, but more like presidential stops. She stopped at a memorial for children who've been killed in gun violence in Chicago. She did hold a rally at a union hall, it was relatively small. She stopped and met with some union workers, targeting the same working-class folks that Sanders is targeting. She had sort of a series of low-key events.

SHAPIRO: Given that that's the nature of the events, what is the nature of her message? I mean, what is she saying to supporters, especially as things are getting more competitive in states that are really important - like Ohio, for example?

KEITH: She is in some ways turning her focus to Donald Trump, and talks about the need to unify the party and - as well as unify the country. And she's also asking her supporters to get out there and help her. The supporters I spoke to said that they were concerned that she really could lose in Illinois, which is her home state. Here's what she said.


HILLARY CLINTON: But do not rest. I mean, if there's an L stop you can go to, if there's a phone call you can make, if there's a door you knock on, if there's a person you convince, please do everything you can in the next 24-plus hours so that we...


CLINTON: ...We come out of these elections tomorrow with a wind at our backs.

SHAPIRO: And what would it mean, Tam, if tomorrow's results are disappointing for her?

KEITH: And let's just say that disappointing would certainly be losing her home state or losing Ohio...


KEITH: ...And her campaign is lowering expectations, you could say. And it's always hard to tell whether they are lowering expectations because their expectations are low or if they're lowering expectations because she really could lose (laughter).

SHAPIRO: It's the campaign jujitsu there.

KEITH: (Laughter) It sure is. But what they are saying is that delegate math remains on her side, you know? It is going to be very difficult for Bernie Sanders to make up this lead that she has among pledged delegates. She has a larger lead among delegates than President Obama ever had, and so she will be just fine even if she loses some of these states narrowly. She's expecting to do quite well in Florida. That's why she's going to be in Florida tomorrow night. She's also going to North Carolina, and she expects to do well in that state, too. So the sense is that she will be OK but Bernie Sanders, if he were to win several of these Midwestern states, would take control of the narrative whether she won more delegates tomorrow night or not.

SHAPIRO: Partly because some of these states that are voting tomorrow are not only important for the primaries, but important swing states in a general election, like Ohio and Florida.

KEITH: Absolutely important general election swing states.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Tamara Keith traveling with Hillary Clinton's campaign in Illinois. Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome, Ari.

SHAPIRO: And of course, we will have updates tomorrow night as people vote in those important states - North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Stay with us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.