Clinton secures delegates before last Democratic races
LOS ANGELES – ReutersHillary Clinton has captured enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, according to tallies by two U.S. media outlets, as she and rival Bernie Sanders faced off on June 7 in contests in six states.
A former senator and U.S. secretary of state, Clinton would be the first woman to ever be the presidential candidate of a major political party in the country’s history.
Sanders has vowed to keep up the fight in what has been a long and increasingly antagonistic Democratic primary race.
The U.S. senator from Vermont, who calls himself a democratic socialist, has commanded huge crowds spilling out of parks and stadiums, galvanizing younger voters with his promises to address economic inequality.
After the Associated Press and NBC reported on June 6 that Clinton had clinched the number of delegates needed to win her party’s nomination, a Sanders campaign spokesman castigated what he said was the media’s “rush to judgment.”
On June 7 morning, Clinton secured the endorsement of House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who noted Clinton’s career devoted to children and working families.
“In this campaign, we have seen her vision, her knowledge, her ability, indeed her stamina, to get the job done for the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Under Democratic National Committee rules, most delegates to the party’s July 25-28 convention are awarded by popular votes in state-by-state elections.
But the delegate count also includes “superdelegates” - party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors - who can change their mind at any time.
For that reason, the DNC has echoed the Sanders campaign, saying the superdelegates should not be counted until they actually vote at the Philadelphia convention.
But that has not deterred the news media. The AP and NBC reported that Clinton reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates.
Clinton has continued to edge out Sanders, particularly among older voters with longer ties to the Democratic Party. Her less lofty promises focus on improving upon the policies of her fellow Democrat and former boss, President Barack Obama.
“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment,” Clinton told a rally in Long Beach, California, shortly after the AP report.
“But we still have work to do, don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
Michael Briggs, Sanders’ spokesman, dismissed the AP and NBC tallies.
“Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump,” he said.
California, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico hold nominating contests on June 7.
The outcome in California, the last and largest state to vote, could affect Clinton’s efforts to unify the party behind her.
If Sanders, who was trailing in polls in California until recently, roars back to take the state, he may have little incentive to exit the race despite increasing pressure from party luminaries to stand down.