After winning New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico and California last night, adding to her total of 2,184 pledged and 571 super delegates, Hillary Rodham Clinton has clinched the Democratic presumptive nomination for President of the United States. She will be confirmed as the party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016, becoming the first woman nominated by a major U.S. party for President.
After a historic first run for the nomination in 2008 against then-Senator Barack Obama, in which then-Senator Clinton (already the first former First Lady to run for political office) became the first woman to win a major-party primary and capitalized on nationwide disgust with the G.W. Bush administration, Clinton has returned as the furtherer of Obama’s legacy in office and the builder of her own. Clinton premiered her general election campaign’s slogan, “Stronger Together”, at the Brooklyn, NY rally marking her presumptive nomination, in contrast against the slogan of her presumptive Republican opponent Donald Trump: “Make America Great Again”.
In her seminal speech at the rally, Clinton invoked historic events in women’s rights such as the Seneca Falls Convention, the 1848 convention in New York State which drafted the Declaration of Sentiments for women’s suffrage, as well as the memory of her mother, who was born the day in 1919 when Congress passed the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s suffrage.
Clinton congratulated her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), on his spirited pressure for progressive principles, to which the audience clapped.
Sanders ended up winning North Dakota and Montana last night, adding to his total of 22 states but few to his total of 1,804 pledged and 48 super delegates. Either candidate needed 2,383 total delegates to clinch the prerequisite majority.
Surprisingly, at 1am EST Wednesday in Santa Monica, California, Sanders refused to acknowledge defeat, and pledged to take his campaign to the remaining Democratic primary in the District of Columbia on 14 June, stating “the struggle continues.” Hours earlier, word came out that the Sanders campaign laid off most of their paid staff. At the rally in Santa Monica, Sanders mentioned in one sentence his phone conversation with Clinton, to which the audience angrily booed.
California, a Democratic-heavy state with 475 pledged delegates (the most of the nomination process), was hoped by the Sanders campaign to show a stronger showing than what final results showed, 55.9% to 43.1%. Sanders supporters on social media, as well as the Sanders campaign, charged the Associated Press with “suppression” of Tuesday’s voters in the AP’s announcing Hillary’s clinching of the presumptive nomination the day before the primary. The theme of media and party suppression of primary voters has become a constant critique by the Sanders campaign and support base against media outlets and the Democratic National Committee.
The Vermont senator’s left-wing populist message of campaign and financial reform has been a constant refrain throughout his campaign for the nomination, but was criticized by others, including Clinton supporters, for not being sufficiently inclusive of other concerns such as racial and gender justice.
The final spate of multiple Democratic primaries have bookended perhaps the most ideologically-fractured presidential primary contest faced by the Democratic Party since 1972, when anti-war candidate George McGovern, to whom Sanders has often been unfavorably compared by Clinton supporters, won the nomination against Ed Muskie under the shift from party caucuses to primaries which McGovern helped design through the McGovern-Fraser Commission (and which have lasted to the present), only to spectacularly lose against Republican incumbent Richard Nixon in the general.
Clinton, a centrist pragmatist who has largely won in the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Midwest, stresses her ability to be a “progressive who gets things done.” She has been fiercely criticized by Sanders supporters for her statecraft as Secretary of State, the third woman to hold the position, in relation to poorer countries in the Global South; her usage of the word “superpredators” in a speech delivered in 1996; not being sufficiently active against fracking and the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and civil investigations into her usage of private email servers for state-level communication.
However, Clinton won praise and support, particularly from veterans of the Obama coalition, for her emphasis on women’s and LGBT rights; her alliance with mothers of African-Americans killed by police or under police custody; and her support for comprehensive immigration reform. Clinton has used these planks to counter the vocal rages of Donald Trump, calling him “temperamentally unfit to be president”.
Clinton is the foremost female major-party nominee for any U.S. office since Rep. Geraldine Ferraro’s candidacy for vice-president with Walter Mondale in 1984. Ferraro herself, who died in 2011, endorsed Clinton’s 2008 bid for the presidency.