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Hillary Clinton declines to debate Bernie Sanders a final time

Senator Bernie Sanders is continuing his "uphill fight" to win the Democratic nomination, and hopes the DNC will pressure Hillary Clinton to compete with him in a Democratic debate in California
Senator Bernie Sanders is continuing his "uph... 05:12

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have, it appears, faced off on the debate stage for the last time.

Clinton's campaign announced Monday evening that the former secretary of state would not be participating in the proposed Fox News debate ahead of California's June 7 primary, stating a desire to focus resources on the general election. That's a pivot her campaign has been working to solidify in recent weeks, with Clinton recently declaring she "will be the nominee."

"We believe that Hillary Clinton's time is best spent campaigning and meeting directly with voters across California and preparing for a general election campaign that will ensure the White House remains in Democratic hands," Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement.

The pair of Democratic candidates agreed back in January to additional debates beyond the six original Democratic National Committee-sanctioned face-offs -- theoretically including one in May.

Sanders, down in pledged delegates and vowing to continue his campaign until the Democratic convention in July, said he is "disappointed but not surprised" by Clinton's decision. He and his campaign have pushed hard for the debate, hoping it would give him the kind of boost needed to help him win a come-from-behind victory in California.

"I hope Secretary Clinton reconsiders her unfortunate decision to back away from her commitment to debate," he said in a statement. "I also would suggest that Secretary Clinton may want to be not quite so presumptuous about thinking that she is a certain winner. In the last several weeks, the people of Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon have suggested otherwise."

Fox News, too, criticized Clinton for declining the debate.

"Naturally, Fox News is disappointed that Secretary Clinton has declined our debate invitation," said Bill Sammon, the network's vice president and Washington managing editor. "Especially given that the race is still contested and she had previously agreed to a final debate before the California primary."

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