RALEIGH, N.C. — Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton campaigned at a polling place at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School at midday on Tuesday, greeting supporters with hugs and selfies and urging them to turn out to vote in the North Carolina Democratic primary even in areas where they believe she is likely to win.
“I feel good. I think, though, that you’ve got to just keep working all day on Election Day and remind people how important it is to vote and don’t let anybody get complacent,” the former secretary of state told reporters.
Clinton expressed concern that her supporters might see public polling that shows her with leads in many of the states with presidential primaries on Tuesday and conclude that they don’t need to vote, which her campaign thinks might have contributed to her unexpected loss to Sen. Bernie Sanders in Michigan last week.
“Sometimes the reporting of polls, some might say, well, my candidate is doing so well, I don’t need to come out,” Clinton said. “But everybody should come out. There’s so much at stake in this election.”
Sanders is expected to perform well in industrial Midwest states like Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Clinton may also have been hurt in the state where she spent her childhood, Illinois, by her close political ties to embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D).
Nonetheless, the Clinton campaign expects that a wide margin of victory in Florida and in North Carolina will allow her to increase her delegate lead over Sanders, bringing her closer to the nomination.
According to Clinton's communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign believes that regardless of the outcomes in those states tonight, the investment of time and resources will prove useful in the general election.
"These five contests in particular have a lot of states that will be battlegrounds," Palmieri said. "So we figure that time spent in Ohio, North Carolina tonight, regardless of the outcome tonight, is the right thing to do."
Asked whether she was concerned that a protracted primary fight with Sanders would impede Democrats' ability to wage a general election fight against the nominee, Clinton declined to encourage Sanders to leave the race.
"Where we stand right now, as of now before we’ve gotten the results tonight, I’ve gotten more votes than anybody including Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “I think I’m ready to take him on if he is in that position."
“I absolutely respect Senator Sanders. He has a right to run his campaign in any way that he chooses, and I’m proud of the campaign we’ve run,” Clinton said.