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Sweet: Clinton in Vernon Hills Thursday, focuses on delegates

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wave before the start of the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami. | Wilfredo Lee/AP

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WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton stumps in north suburban Vernon Hills on Thursday night, as her campaign braces for Bernie Sanders, emboldened by his surprise win in Michigan, to make inroads in Illinois, Ohio and Missouri in Tuesday’s primaries.

But the delegate math will still play to her favor, emphasized Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, no matter who wins each state.

Clinton won more delegates from Mississippi and Michigan on Tuesday than Sanders — though that’s hardly what you may have surmised from a scan of headlines or a few minutes of listening to cable news.

Indeed, at the start of the Univision Democratic debate Wednesday at Miami Dade College, Clinton was asked about why she “failed” in Michigan — getting no credit from the questioner for winning more delegates than Sanders on Tuesday.

“I was pleased that I got 100,000 more votes last night than my opponent and more delegates,” Clinton said in reply, putting Mississippi and Michigan together.

Asked what he could do to catch up in the delegate tally, Sanders, taking a new tack, said he was going to go after superdelegates — Democratic party honchos who are automatic delegates. Clinton has most of them locked up.

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Sanders said he will get the superdelegates to his side by showing he “is the strongest candidate to beat Donald Trump.”

While it’s an incredible political psychological boost for Sanders to win Michigan, a state that seemed tailored for Clinton, Democrats allocate delegates proportionately, based on the number of votes in each congressional district.

In a Wednesday conference call with reporters, Mook focused on the delegate counts while giving Sanders his due.

With this new burst of energy, “All signs point to Sen. Sanders competing especially hard” in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, Mook said. “And it is true that the demographics of those states are similar to Michigan.

“. . . We know that Sen. Sanders is going to fight hard in all three of those states, that despite what the public polling says, all three will be competitive,” Mook said.

Here’s Mook’s main point:

“Even in a scenario” where Sanders were to win “all three of the states he is targeting in the Midwest — Ohio, Illinois and Missouri — we would still expect to win significantly more delegates on the 15th,” Mook said, counting in Florida and North Carolina, which also vote that day.

Clinton overwhelmed Sanders in Mississippi 82.6 percent to 16.5 percent. Though the numbers are not final, it looks like Clinton picked up 29 delegates to four for Sanders.

Sanders narrowly won Michigan 49.8 percent to 48.3 percent for Clinton. He earned 65 delegates to her 58.

It takes 2,383 delegates to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

So far, Clinton has 762 elected delegates and the backing of 461 superdelegates. Her total is 1,223 delegates.

Sanders has 549 elected delegates and 25 superdelegates. His total is 574 delegates.

“The Sanders campaign will continue to downplay that math,” Mook said.

A byproduct of Sanders’ success in Michigan is Clinton adding the Vernon Hills event to her schedule.

Clinton will work her home-state advantage at a get-out-the vote drive at 7:15 p.m. at the Vernon Hills Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center, 635 Aspen Drive.

On Tuesday, Bill Clinton stumped for Hillary on Chicago’s West Side to rally the African-American vote, and in Evanston, the progressive stronghold that could yield Sanders delegates.

Sanders, said Mook, has to go on to win delegates “by very lopsided margins if he is going to catch up. . . . We are confident that we are nearing the point where our delegate lead will soon become insurmountable.”

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