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Clinton blitzes Chicago in bid to hold off Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets a woman at an immigration round table at the Resurrection Project at La Casa in the Pilsen neighborhood on Monday, March 14, 2016. With Clinton are labor leader Dolores Huerta (left) and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. (right). Carolyn Kaster/AP

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In four campaign stops, Hillary Clinton sprinted across Chicago on Monday — and then flew to Springfield — devoting an extraordinary amount of time to Illinois the day before the primary vote, worried about an upset Bernie Sanders’ victory.

And former President Bill Clinton — who was here on Sunday — will return to Chicago on Election Day, making a last-minute push to turn out the vote, especially in African-American communities.

Bernie Sanders wrapped up his Illinois campaign in a late-night rally at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University as both he and Clinton barnstormed the Midwest on Monday, with five states voting on Tuesday: Illinois, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Missouri.

The Clinton team will wake up Tuesday knowing that votes in Ohio and Illinois — states once seen as easy Clinton turf — may be tough.

In the past few days, Sanders has pounded away at Clinton because she has been backed by the politically toxic unpopular Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

As for Illinois, Clinton’s native state, “We know this state is going to be close,” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director told me.

In a whirlwind of events, Clinton appealed to core Democratic base voting groups:

Hispanics in Pilsen; party activists and union workers at a West Loop union hall; mothers whose kids were victims of gun violence at a memorial in Roseland; and then in Chicago Lawn, meeting with union leaders facing layoffs from the Nabisco plant at 73rd and Kedzie.

OPINION

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“I was born in this city,” Clinton reminded the crowd at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington, looking for a home-field advantage. Clinton was born in Edgewater Hospital on the North Side and was raised in north suburban Park Ridge.

“I know people have been working really hard, but do not rest,” Clinton said at the union hall.

“If there is an L stop you can go to, if there is a phone call you can make, if there is a door you can knock on, if there is a person you can convince, please do everything you can in the next 24 plus hours so that we come out of these elections tomorrow with a wind at our backs and we have the way forward to be able to start talking about not only unifying the Democratic party but unifying our country,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s first stop was at an immigration workshop at the La Casa Resource Center, 1818 S. Paulina. She was joined by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who has been a national surrogate for Clinton, focusing on the Hispanic vote, and Dolores Huerta, the labor leader who was among the founders of the farm workers movement.

Clinton’s counts among her base the support of African American women and she has been working for some months now with mothers whose children were victims of violence in the city.

After the union hall, Clinton headed to 117th and Michigan, where she was joined by Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and the Rev. Jesse Jackson — who hosted Sanders at his Rainbow/PUSH headquarters on Saturday — at the “Kids Off the Block Memorial,” with 501 bricks shaped like small headstones, each one representing a youth from the community who was killed.

Across from the Nabisco plant, Clinton met with leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Some 277 Chicago workers are slated to be laid off in the coming days, said Jethro Head, the union’s international vice president.

“It is imperative that we do more to keep jobs here. And we do more to attract jobs to places like Chicago, well, really across our country,” Clinton said.

No matter what the votes are on Tuesday, Clinton is all but certain to retain her delegate lead, even if Sanders wins the popular vote in states like Illinois.

During a Town Hall session with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, from Columbus, Ohio, Sanders said his team now will go after the Clinton superdelegates.

Said Sanders, “I think what people should be saying to super delegates, ‘Look, if Bernie Sanders wins this state with a big vote, why don’t you vote with the people of your state.’ ”

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