Clinton campaign kicks off RI operations, Sanders to follow

Photo: WPRI/ Steph Machado

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island campaign headquarters for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign opened Thursday evening, kicking off a flurry of phone calls and door knocks sure to take place ahead of the April 26 primary.

The Bernie Sanders Rhode Island campaign is set to formally kick off on Sunday.

At the Clinton campaign office on Reservoir Avenue in Providence, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-Rhode Island) was the headliner, revving up the crowd and reminding them that nothing should be taken for granted.

“Rhode Island is, and always has been, Clinton country,” Raimondo told the crowd of supporters. “We gotta deliver Rhode Island big for Hillary…not just winning, we want to win big.”

Clinton beat President Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary in Rhode Island by a whopping 18 points.

“She ought to carry Rhode Island,” Raimondo told Eyewitness News. “But we’re taking nothing for granted.”

Clinton won Massachusetts over Senator Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday last month, but only by less than two percentage points. She ended up with just one more pledged delegate than Sanders, in a state that has historically supported Clinton.

“We’re still fighting for every vote throughout the primary,” said Nick Black, the State Director for Clinton’s campaign in Rhode Island. “We’re going to do everything we can do to win the delegates here in Rhode Island.”

Nine of Rhode Island’s 33 delegates are so-called “superdelegates,” and have already said they’ll vote for Hillary in the Democratic convention this summer. The other 24 are up for grabs on April 26.

“We’re going to fight very hard for each and every one of those 24 pledged delegates,” said Joe Caiazzo, the Rhode Island Political Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

That campaign will kick off its operations at its Broad street headquarters in Providence on Sunday.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Caiazzo highlighted the tight race last month in Massachusetts.

“We were able to move the dial about 30 points,” he said. “I know we came up short there, but we were able to move the dial.”

The race for the Democratic nomination has become more vitriolic in recent weeks, with Sanders recently doubting if Hillary Clinton was qualified for the presidency.

“She clearly is qualified,” Raimondo said Thursday night. “Former United States Senator, former Secretary of State, successful lawyer.”

She also looked toward the general election, where Clinton could face Republican front-runner Donald Trump, if each of them wins their respective party’s nomination. Raimondo said Trump was “absolutely” a threat.

“That’s what’s so scary about it,” she said. “I think a President Trump would be awful.”

Neither Clinton nor Sanders has formally scheduled a campaign stop in Rhode Island, though both campaigns indicated a possibility of a visit.

 

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