Podesta: Clinton 'fighting' to win Calif., Trump gaining strength

Top Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta acknowledged Sunday that his candidate is “fighting” to win the upcoming California primary, despite needing just 60 more delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, and that Republican challenger Donald Trump is gaining strength.

“California’s important,” Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, told “Fox News Sunday.” “And that’s why Hillary is crisscrossing the state. And we are fighting to win here.”

A total 694 Democratic delegates are available in six primaries Tuesday, including 475 in California.

Polls show Clinton essentially tied with long-shot challenger Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in California. And a Sanders win would be a momentum-killer for Clinton as she prepares for the party’s July nominating convention and to take on Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, in the general election.

“We think we’re going to come out of Tuesday night with the delegates we need for her to be the first woman [presidential] nominee on a major party ticket in the United States,” Podesta also said Sunday. “We’re looking forward to that.”

He downplayed polls in recent weeks that show Clinton and Trump essentially tied in a general election race and in key swing states Florida and Ohio, saying the contest is “just coming into focus.”

However, Podesta acknowledged that the hypothetical race is indeed close for now and attributed the situation to Trump’s recent success at bringing together his party, including getting a key endorsement last week from House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“I think that's what we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” Podesta said. “He has consolidated Republicans. And that’s led to something of a tightening of the polls. But this has really just begun.”