Former First Lady, former U. S. Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has finally won enough delegates to make history as the first woman to become the presidential nominee of a major political party.
“Thanks to you we’ve reached a milestone,” Clinton told a wildly applauding and cheering crowd in Brooklyn, N.Y. Tuesday night. “The first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee. Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of men and women who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible. We all owe so much to those who came before. And tonight belongs to all of you.”
She immediately offered an olive branch to her Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has vowed to stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention.
“I want to congratulate Sen. Sanders for the extraordinary campaign he has run. He has spent his long career in public service fighting for Progressive causes and principles and he’s excited millions of voters, especially young people. And let there be no mistake. Sen. Sanders, his campaign, and the vigorous debate that we’ve had about how to raise incomes, reduce inequality, increase upward mobility, have been very good for the democratic party and for America. This has been a hard fought, deeply felt campaign. But whether you supported me or Sen. Sanders or one of the Republicans, we all need to keep working toward a better, stronger America. Now I know it never feels good to put your heart into a cause or a candidate you believe in and to come up short. I know that feeling well.”
Nearly eight years ago, it was Clinton who came up short in her Democratic primary race against then Sen. Barack Obama. This week, President Obama plans to meet with Clinton and Sanders in an attempt to begin healing between the two campaigns.
He spoke to both candidates on Tuesday. An Obama endorsement of Clinton appears to be imminent.
Sanders knows what time it is.“I am pretty good with arithmetic and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight,” Sanders said in California Tuesday night. “But we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get.”
But that comment was made before Clinton’s sweeping win in California with at least 56% of the vote to Sanders’ 43%. Sanders then congratulated her on her win in California, but has still not conceded the nomination.
Clinton also won New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota on Tuesday. Sanders won Montana and North Dakota.
The Associated Press reported that Sanders was “disappointed” and “upset” at the news of the Clinton win in California. The only primary left is the D.C. primary June 14. With only 46 D.C. delegates at stake, that’s not nearly enough for a Sanders nomination.
Clinton already has 2,740 delegates, 357 more than the 2383 needed to clinch the nomination. Sanders has only 1800. He had hoped to win over some of the powerful super delegates who will cast final votes at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25-28.
Meanwhile, in her race against Republican nominee Donald Trump, Clinton appears to be reaching for a broad tent of voters, similar to the Rainbow Coalition established by the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1988. In a video championing her historic win, Clinton said: “Women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight, you have stood with me. And I will continue to stand strong with you, every time, every place and every way that I can!”
Meanwhile, Trump is being dogged by allegations of “racism” from his own Republican Party leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who are angry over his criticism of an America judge that he repeatedly says his “Mexican” heritage disqualifies him for presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University. However, Trump suddenly toned down his attacks this week and started using a teleprompter. He says he will no longer speak of Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, but will do a speech next week targeting Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
But Trump also has a major hill to climb. So far, Clinton has received 15.2 million votes in Democratic primaries, 1.3 million more than Trump’s 13.9 million received in Republican primaries.
In a speech on Tuesday, Trump tried to welcome Sanders’ millions of supporters into his campaign: “This election isn’t about Republican or Democrat, it’s about who runs this country: the special interests or the people,” he said.
But Sanders indicated that he will persuade his supporters to remain under the Democratic tent: Speaking of Clinton, he said: “Our fight is to transform this country and to understand that we are in this together, to understand that all of what we believe is what the majority of the American people believe and to understand that the struggle continues.”