Hillary Clinton in Orange County: Supporters eager for her Buena Park visit

BUENA PARK – Three weeks through May, the Democratic nomination is close enough for Hillary Clinton’s loyal Orange County supporters to secure it themselves.

Many gathered early Wednesday outside a Buena Park union hall that holds about 550 people, a couple of hours before the front runner was scheduled to speak. A few supporters chanted “I’m with her! I’m with her!” while others offered signs of allegiance and words of conviction.

“She’s the most qualified person who has ever run for this office, her husband included,” said Mark Wagner, 57, of Santa Ana.

A New England native, Wagner said he “loves” Bernie Sanders, but feels Clinton, a “hero” of his late mother’s, better fits the office.

“I don’t think half of the stuff (Sanders) talks about can get done,” Wagner said. “Obama had the same problem.”

Voting in her first general election this November, 19-year-old Bailey Grebbin, of Dana Point, said a number of her peers and professors at Vermont’s Green Mountain College support Sanders. Still, she is steadfast in her support of Clinton.

Grebbin cited Clinton’s support of college students already with loan debt. “I’m already in college, I already have debt, so free tuition doesn’t really help me,” she said.

Dawn Rabonza, 59, of Lakewood, had just gotten off work at a nearby Ralphs before stepping in line for the rally.

A 31-year Army veteran, Rabonza called the media “bias” in their coverage of Clinton, saying she takes reports of voters’ negative opinions of Clinton “with a grain of salt.”

When asked about Clinton’s odds against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in a general election, she said: “I hope he doesn’t have a chance. He’s an idiot. The man with the money thinks he can do what he wants, not necessarily.”

Clinton only needs to hold on to her current superdelegates and win 90 more pledged delegates to secure the nomination. California’s June 7 primary, with 475 Democratic delegates to be distributed on a congressional district basis, offers her a prime opportunity to do so.

Sanders and many of his ardent backers brush aside analysis showing that it’s almost mathematically impossible for him to win the Democratic nomination, saying a big win in the June 7 California primary could give him leverage to woo superdelegates away from Clinton.

If Clinton and Trump are the nominees, it will be a match-up between the two most unpopular candidates in the history of ABC/Washington Post election polls, dating back to 1984.

An ABC-Post poll released Sunday showed 53 percent of Americans see Clinton unfavorably, and 60 percent see Trump unfavorably.

Contact the writer: mwisckol@ocregister.com

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