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History in hand, Clinton faces voters as presumptive nominee

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a rally, Monday, in Long Beach, Calif.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. spoke during a campaign rally at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday in San Diego.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    People reacted to meeting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally, Monday, in Long Beach, Calif.

SAN FRANCISCO » History already in hand, Hillary Clinton will celebrate becoming the first woman to lead a major American political party today following votes in California, New Jersey and four other states — contests Clinton hopes send her into the general election in strong standing.

Clinton reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the eve of today’s voting, according to an Associated Press tally. Her total is comprised of pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates — the party officials and officeholders who can back a candidate of their choosing.

Clinton greeted news of her achievement with a measured response, wary of depressing turnout and eager to save the revelry for a big victory party tonight in Brooklyn. During a campaign stop in California, Clinton told a cheering crowd she was on the brink of a “historic, unprecedented moment,” but said there was still work to do in her unexpectedly heated primary battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“We’re going to fight hard for every single vote,” Clinton declared.

Heading into today’s voting, Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates and the support of 571 of the 714 superdelegates, according to the AP count.

The AP surveyed the superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months. While they can change their minds, those counted in Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.

During a rally Monday evening in San Francisco, Sanders said a victory in California would give him “enormous momentum” in his bid to push the Democratic primary to a convention fight. Sanders is urging superdelegates to drop their support for Clinton before the gathering in Philadelphia, arguing he is a stronger candidate to take on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But Sanders has so far been unable to sway the superdelegates, and there were signs Monday that he was taking stock of his standing in the race. Speaking to reporters, Sanders said he planned to return to Vermont on Wednesday and “assess where we are” following the California results.

The senator’s comments came on the heels of a weekend phone call with President Barack Obama, who has stayed out of the Democratic primary to date but is poised to endorse Clinton as early as this week.

“The president intends certainly through the fall, if not earlier, to engage in this campaign,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “That’s an opportunity the president relishes.”

Obama and Clinton battled ferociously for the Democratic nomination in 2008. Today marks eight years to the day Clinton conceded to Obama in an emotional speech where she noted she was unable to “shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.”

The former secretary of state reflected on breaking that barrier as she made her final swing through California on Monday, and she’s expected to do so again today night in New York.

“It’s really emotional,” Clinton said. “I’m someone who has been very touched and really encouraged by this extraordinary conviction that people have.”

Glenda McCarthy, a 64-year-old from San Pedro, California, is among the loyal Clinton supporters who have longed for this milestone moment.

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” McCarthy said. “Not just a woman, but a woman who is so strong.”

Clinton’s victory is broadly decisive. She leads Sanders by more than 3 million cast votes, by 291 pledged delegates and by 523 superdelegates. She won 29 caucuses and primaries in states and U.S. territories to his 21 victories.

Clinton has been eager to move past the protracted primary and fully turn her attention to her general election battle with Trump. She energized Democrats with a blistering speech last week challenging Trump’s qualifications for the presidency, reassuring supporters that she’s prepared for a bruising campaign against the unpredictable businessman.

Trump vanquished his remaining Republican rivals about a month ago, a stunning achievement for the untested political candidate. Despite his controversial statements about minorities and his vague policy proposals, many Republicans quickly consolidated around his nomination.

But Trump has continued to irritate GOP officials, including with his recent criticism of a U.S. district court judge. Trump has said Judge Gonzalo Curiel can’t be impartial in a legal case involving the businessman because his parents were born in Mexico and Trump wants to build a wall along the border.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said today that Trump made the “textbook definition of a racist comment” in saying the American-born judge isn’t qualified to preside over the case.

Trump also continues to struggle to build out a robust general election campaign staff in battleground states or a national fundraising network, though the real estate mogul insists he can win without the trappings of a traditional campaign.

Trump was also spending today in New York, with a primetime event scheduled at his golf resort in Westchester.

New Jersey and California are the biggest prizes up for grabs today, with Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota also holding contests. The final Democratic primary will be held next week in the District of Columbia.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Compton, California, and Hope Yen, Stephen Ohlemacher and Lisa Lerer in Washington contributed to this report.

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  • Congratulations to Mrs. Clinton on this achievement!

    She will, obviously, defeat Mr. Trump in the general election, and will make a fine President.

    Trump is a racist xenophobe, and will never be elected. Never.

    • With Clinton, we will have yet another globalist, neoliberal war hawk in the Oval Office. Republicans, quite frankly, should be glad to have Clinton win the presidency. She won’t waste trillions of dollars on some ridiculous wall, she won’t shut down Guantanamo, she won’t shut down the NSA, and she’ll still be supporting the bloodshed in Libya, Syria, and Iraq like she has been as Secretary of State.

      If anyone on the left wanted real progressive change, they should have voted for Sanders.

      • If Sanders really was the change-maker he claims to be, he should have accomplished more while he was in Congress. Eight years in the Senate, and Hillary meets the Senatorial mean of getting ten bills passed. Sanders was in the Senate nine years and got one bill passed. Clinton amended bills 67 times, or 8.4 times a year (above the Senatorial mean of 7.4) whereas Sanders amended 57 in nine years, or 7.4 amendments per year – 33% fewer amendments than Clinton per year. Because Dem voters want a do-er and achiever, not a finger-wagger and rally-lover, three million more of us voted for Clinton than Sanders. Also, we don’t buy the anti-Clinton propaganda that Republicans have been selling and that Sanders, pathetically for his own gain, has co-opted. Lastly, a Socialist who voted against the Amber Alert system and against crimininalizing computer-based child porn, who wrote that sexual repression causes cancer, whose wife is being investigated for defrauding the university she headed (a university that closed earlier this year) would be an easy and tasty meal for the Koch and Trump-fueled onslaught.

        But you’re welcome to enjoy your fantasy, because Sanders will never be the presidential nominee of any party.

        • You have offered no source to support any of those numbers. Even if they were true, it does not vindicate Hillary’s wrongdoing.

  • Let the games begin! There will be a lot of punches thrown before the real issues are disgust. This is going to be a really dirty battle.

  • hiLIARy has American blood on her hands and she won’t win. She is a total disgusting liar full of…deceit…untrustworthyness. She has accomplished setting the middle east on fire. Total failure! President Donald Trump is coming to Make America Great Again!

        • You are totally ignorant and gullible if you think Trump will make America great again. He is dividing America even now and it won’t get any better because he will turn the rest of the world against the US if he is elected.

        • at Control…as gullible as you were with O…twice…expecting different result the second time around? Defending the Indefensible is a daunting & futile task.

  • Does anyone find it interesting that the Associated Press announces Hillary as the presumptive delegate prior to the elections on Tuesday. Why spend the preceding two weeks discussing how important these primaries were when in the end you will announce her as the candidate prior to their vote. But as Twain said before “If our voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it”

    • Maybe that’s because she is (the nominee). That said, she referred to a glass ceiling in 2008. A glass ceiling refers to an invisible sexist barrier that prevents women from advancement. There is no glass ceiling in an election. People either vote for you or they don’t. She demeans all women by trying to play the sexist card.

    • Probably because election in the past week put her over the count to win the nomination so she mathematically has the numbers to win the nomination.

  • I’m surprised that the Bernie supporters aren’t around trying to convince/pray/beg/plead/cry/moan/hope that somehow the superdelegates will change and vote for him. Many web sites the Bernie supporters still haven’t given up and are holding out the hope that at or by the DNC somehow the vote will turn and Bernie will win. Glad that Bernie supporters here finally realize that it is over, (barring Hillary being indicted which is doubtful) that the DNC is merely an affirmation to nominate Clinton and time for Bernie supporters to crawl back into the woodwork until they find another worthy candidate to support.

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