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In Washington state, Sanders says he would be strongest candidate against Trump

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he is the strongest candidate to beat Republican Donald Trump as he campaigned in Spokane ahead of Saturday's Democratic caucuses.

The U.S. senator kicked off a two-day visit Thursday with stops in Spokane and Yakima. He'll swing through Seattle on Friday.

Sanders spoke to a crowd of about 3,000 at the 11,000-seat Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena during a rally on Thursday afternoon.

Sanders says the top goal of Democrats is to retain the White House and that he is the best candidate to achieve that.

“We have to do everything we can to make certain that a Republican does not occupy the White House and in order to do that we need the strongest Democratic candidate possible,” Sanders said, “and you are looking at him.”

Sanders pointed to his victories in Utah and Idaho earlier this week to show his campaign is gaining momentum against Hillary Clinton, and urged people to attend caucuses on Saturday.

Speaking to about 7,000 people at a rally later in Yakima, Wash., Sanders said, “We’ve carried 11 states up to now and with your help at the caucus on Saturday we’re going to win Washington. And if we can do well in Washington, do well in Hawaii, do well in Alaska, we have a road to victory."