From The New York Times
Hillary Clinton became the first woman to capture the presidential nomination of one of the country’s major political parties on Monday night, according to an Associated Press survey of Democratic superdelegates, securing enough of them to overcome a bruising challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders and turn to a brutal five-month campaign against Donald J. Trump.
In a yearlong nomination fight full of surprise twists, from the popularity of Mr. Sanders to the success of Mr. Trump, the revelation that Mrs. Clinton had clinched the nomination was another startling development — especially coming on the eve of major primaries in California, New Jersey and other states. Mr. Sanders added to the drama by refusing to accept the A.P. survey and vowing to fight on, while Mr. Trump argued that he had done more for women than Mrs. Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton was ebullient but also restrained as she received the news at an uncanny moment — almost eight years to the day after she ended her campaign against Barack Obama before a crowd of many teary women and girls. On Monday night, she shared the breakthrough with a jubilant audience at a campaign stop in Long Beach, Calif.
“I got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” Mrs. Clinton said. “We have six elections tomorrow, and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
Like Mr. Obama eight years ago, Mrs. Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination with the support of hundreds of superdelegates — the party insiders, Democratic officials, members of Congress, major donors and others who help select the nominee. Under Democratic rules, these superdelegates — approximately 720 in all — are allowed to back any candidate they wish and can change their allegiance any time before the Democratic National Convention in July.
Mrs. Clinton has had relationships with many of the superdelegates for years, and her campaign began seeking their support as soon as she entered the race last spring. Mr. Sanders, by contrast, has struggled to win their backing.
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders competed most aggressively for so-called pledged delegates — the roughly 4,000 delegates won through state primaries and caucuses.
The A.P. declared Mrs. Clinton the presumptive nominee by reaching out to superdelegates who had not announced which candidate they were supporting, and confirming that enough were backing Mrs. Clinton to get her to the magic number of 2,383.
But her aides were reluctant to proclaim the race over, for fear of depressing turnout on Tuesday — especially in California, where the race remains close — or appearing to take the victory for granted.
Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, said the A.P.’s call was “an important milestone” but indicated Mrs. Clinton did not intend to declare victory until Tuesday night, when she “will clinch not only a win in the popular vote, but also the majority of pledged delegates.”
Advisers to Mr. Sanders took a dim view of the math. He previously said he would lobby Clinton superdelegates to shift their support to him by arguing that he is the party’s best chance to defeat Mr. Trump, and he particularly plans to target those superdelegates who represent states where Mr. Sanders won primaries and caucuses.
The advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Sanders was aiming to win the California primary on Tuesday to bolster his argument to superdelegates that he is the stronger and more popular candidate than Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Sanders, speaking on Monday night at a rally in San Francisco, did not acknowledge the news that Mrs. Clinton had clinched the nomination, and instead defiantly vowed to continue his candidacy to the convention. But he also made clear that Tuesday’s vote was make or break for the future of his campaign.
“Tomorrow is the most important primary in the whole Democratic nominating process — we are going to win here in California,” Mr. Sanders said. He added that if he could win the Tuesday contests in California, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Montana and do well in New Jersey, his campaign would be “going into that convention with enormous momentum.”
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