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Clinton pitches minimum-wage boost while fundraising in L.A.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to people in the overflow area during a campaign event at the Los Angeles Southwest College on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hillary Clinton detoured Saturday from a weekend of big-dollar fundraising in California to pitch her plans to raise the federal minimum wage and refresh her criticism of rival Bernie Sanders in advance of Tuesday’s New York primary.

The former first lady told a cheering crowd at a Los Angeles rally Saturday afternoon that if elected, she would push Congress to lift the $7.25-an-hour federal base wage.

Clinton’s remarks echoed her statements at Thursday’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn, New York. The former senator, who previously endorsed a $12-per-hour federal minimum wage, said she would also sign legislation raising that level to $15.

“People end up in poverty. We need a living wage,” she told the audience at Southwest Los Angeles College. She credited California for recently enacting the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage — $15 an hour by 2022.

The focus of Clinton’s swing through California was a pair of big-ticket fundraisers with actor George Clooney, with some donors agreeing to raise or donate six-figure sums.

In response, Sanders’ campaign is running an ad in California contrasting his average donation — $27 — with Clinton’s fundraising. Clinton has been more reliant on traditional fundraising, while Sanders has raised the bulk of his money online.

Facing a string of competitive contests with Sanders, Clinton depicted the Vermont senator as favoring the gun lobby over crime victims, while saying she would push for stronger background checks for gun buyers.

Clinton faces a tough test with Sanders in California, where an independent Field Poll released this month found Clinton with a 6-percentage-point lead, with 12 percent of voters still undecided.

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