Hillary Clinton to campaign in RI on Saturday

Dem frontrunner joins Kasich in setting pre-primary visit; Sanders, Trump could follow

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will visit Rhode Island over the weekend to campaign ahead of the state’s presidential primary, WPRI.com has confirmed.

The former secretary of state will be in Rhode Island on Saturday for “a public organizing event,” her campaign said, saying she “will discuss her plans to raise incomes for families and break down the barriers that hold Rhode Islanders back.”

Additional details have not yet been released. Clinton’s most recent visit to Rhode Island was for a private fundraiser in East Greenwich last June.

Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, is also expected to make a campaign stop in Rhode Island prior to the April 26 primary, though his aides have not formally confirmed it yet.

All nine of Rhode Island’s Democratic so-called “superdelegates” have already backed Clinton, but 24 other delegates will be divided between Clinton and Sanders based on the primary results – and both campaigns have been ramping up their efforts to woo local voters in what’s generally seen as a competitive race.

The Clinton campaign sent former President Bill Clinton to Warwick for a rally last week and has opened field offices in Providence and Central Falls, making a bet on high minority turnout in the state’s urban core. Sanders’ campaign held a well-attended State House rally over the weekend and has opened offices in Providence and Wakefield, seeking to draw out groups that lean toward the Vermont senator such as independents and college students.

Clinton defeated Barack Obama by 18 percentage points in Rhode Island’s 2008 Democratic primary. But Sanders aides have pointed to her narrow victory last month in neighboring Massachusetts – which had also been a Clinton stronghold back in 2008 – as evidence the Vermont senator can win Rhode Island.

On the Republican side of the race, John Kasich has already announced plans for a town hall at Bryant University on Saturday morning. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have not announced plans to visit, though Trump’s top local supporter said Monday that Trump may hold a local event later this week.

There are 19 Republican delegates at stake in Rhode Island’s primary. While Trump is widely expected to win, Kasich and Cruz can pick up at least three delegates each in the state even if Trump receives far more votes than they do, thanks to the proportional rules set by the state GOP.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hillary Clinton won Rhode Island by 15 points in 2008; she won by 18 points.

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