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Clinton relishing her victory Tuesday night at a rally in Brooklyn, New York 

CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Clinton Claims the Nomination

Tuesday’s primary wins set up a November matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 

Hillary Clinton claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night after decisive victories in the California, New Jersey, and New Mexico primaries. And she quickly appealed to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to unite with her against her likely opponent in the general election, Republican Donald Trump.

Sanders, however, gave no indication that he would bow out of the race.

With the 14-month Democratic race nearing a close, Clinton savored the biggest night of her extraordinary journey from lawyer and First Lady to senator, secretary of state, and, now, the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination. At a rally in Brooklyn, New York, she took the stage with her hands clasped over her heart in gratitude, then threw open her arms in joy and savored a long moment as a jubilant crowd waved American flags and chanted “Hillary!”

Reaching for history, Clinton pledged to build on the achievements of pioneers like the 19th-century women’s suffrage leaders at Seneca Falls, New York, who began the fight for women’s rights in America.

“Tonight caps an amazing journey—a long, long journey,” she said, nearly a century after women won the right to vote nationwide. “We all owe so much to those who came before, and tonight belongs to all of you.”

Sanders & Superdelegates

As six states voted on Tuesday, Sanders’s political lifeline frayed with each loss. He had hoped for a victory in the delegate-rich California primary to justify staying in the race and lobbying Democratic officials to support him in a contested convention next month. He will now likely face intense pressure from those same officials to drop and throw his support to Clinton, who is in for a tough battle against Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star. Trump has already amassed enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination.

Sanders won the North Dakota caucuses and the Montana primary on Tuesday, while Clinton won the South Dakota primary. Republicans also voted in several states, and Trump, who is unopposed, won all five of those contests.

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Bernie Sanders has vowed to stay in the race till the Democratic convention in July.

CREDIT: Sipa via AP Images

Sanders said Tuesday night that his aides were “on the phone right now” with superdelegates—including those supporting Clinton—trying to convince them to support him instead.

“Defying history is what this campaign has been about,” he said Tuesday night of his bid for the Democratic nomination, which was initially seen as a long shot. “I am going to be meeting with our supporters to figure out the best way forward so that we have a government which represents all of us, and not just the 1 percent.”

Part of Sanders’s challenge is that his justifications for continuing his campaign are increasingly thin.

Clinton has now won a majority of the 4,051 pledged delegates at stake in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, crossing what Sanders had long held up as a critical threshold. She also has support from 571 superdelegates to Mr. Sanders’s 48; only about 100 uncommitted superdelegates remain.

Despite the reluctance of the Sanders campaign to concede defeat and the determination of many of his supporters to keep fighting, Clinton’s backers predicted that the Democratic Party would unify behind her. 

“I think that will sink in over the next few weeks and months and will go a long way to helping unite the party,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said. “I was on the bike this morning and saw on TV that . . . Hillary had won the nomination, and I got teary-eyed. From a 10,000-foot perspective, it’s an amazing accomplishment.”

However, both Clinton and Trump have a lot of work to do to prepare for the fall election. Despite their victories, many voters still view them unfavorably. Their success or failure in convincing skeptics to vote for them will likely determine who wins the White House in November.

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