WASHINGTON As her rival for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination racked up another victory, front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday dismissed the notion of a contested party convention and said she was not preparing for such a scenario.
Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming caucuses on Saturday, beating Clinton in seven out of the last eight Democratic nominating contests as the two gear up for a crucial matchup in New York state.
The U.S. senator from Vermont is trying to chip away at Clinton’s big lead in the number of delegates needed to secure the party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election.
He said on Sunday he believed he could close the gap, and left the door open for a so-called floor flight at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July if neither has won an outright majority of delegates.
In that case, a system of multiple ballots takes place, governed by complex rules, with candidates hoping to persuade delegates to vote for them.
Asked on CNN if she were preparing for such a scenario, Clinton said, “No, I intend to have the number of delegates that are required to be nominated.”
Clinton said she was leading Sanders by 2.5 million popular votes and in pledged delegates. “I feel good about the upcoming contests, and I expect to be the nominee,” she said.
The Wyoming results did not change the delegate math for the Democratic contenders. Each won seven, since delegates are awarded proportionally based on caucus-goers support.
Going into Wyoming, Clinton had more than half of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination. Sanders trailed her by 250 pledged delegates, those awarded based on the results of the state nominating contests.
But Sanders said future contests in the West and on the East Coast looked favorable to him, including New York, Pennsylvania, California and Oregon.
“We believe that we have the momentum. We believe that the polling is showing that we’re closing the gap,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.”
While the majority of the 4,763 delegates are pledged, 15 percent are held by so-called superdelegates, who get to vote however they like and could hold the key to a tight contest.
Sanders sidestepped questions on Sunday on whether he was prepared to take the nomination to a floor fight if Clinton did not win the magic number of pledged delegates, but he left the possibility open.
“If neither candidate ends up, you know, having the kind of votes they need, yes, I think there will be some discussion,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Sanders predicted he could draw away “a lot of our superdelegates” if he keeps doing better than Clinton in opinion polls on who could defeat Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
An inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server in her Chappaqua, New York, home for her work as U.S. secretary of state continues to cast legal uncertainty over her campaign.
On Sunday, her former boss, President Barack Obama, said he did not believe the arrangement harmed national security, despite more than 2,000 of her emails containing classified information, which the government bans from being handled outside secure, government-controlled channels.
“There’s classified and then there’s classified,” Obama said in an interview with Fox News. He also emphasized that the U.S. Justice Department would investigate impartially, without heed to politics.
(Additional reporting by Clarece Polke and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Ros Russell and Jonathan Oatis)