Hillary Clinton made history tonight, as the first woman in the 240-year history of the United States to become the presumptive presidential nominee of a major political party.
“Thanks to you we’ve reached a milestone – the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” she crowed in her victory-lap speech in Brooklyn, ignoring the party poopers at AP and some TV news operations who took about 10% of the drama out of the event by declaring her the presumptive Dem nominee the previous night. Tonight’s speech came after the news nets declared her the winner of the New Jersey primary, among the six states holding primaries on this final Super Tuesday including the big prize: California. (hours later, with 92% of precincts reporting, the former Secretary of State bested Bernie Sanders in California, 56% to 43%.)
Update: At 10:43 PM PT, Clinton’s Dem rival Bernie Sanders declined to throw in the towel, to the delight of his fans.
“Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary, in Washington, D.C. he said, triggering screams of joy from the crowd at the Santa Monica Airport.
“We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington D.C. and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia.
“I am pretty good in arithmetic, and I know that the fight in front of us is a very steep fight,” he said as 39% of the voting in California showed him with about 38.5 to Clinton’s 60%.”
Sanders’ crowd booed when he mentioned Trump; they booed as vigorously when he brought up Clinton.
“Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men, who struggled and sacrificed to make this possible,” Clinton told her fans during her final primary night speech. Her campaign, she added, believes “cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.”
Donald Trump, at whom the wall gag was pointed, made history today too, when Republican party bigwigs celebrated the official end of primary season by fleeing from their presumptive nominee. This because of Trump’s repeated has attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel, charging that his rulings in the Trump University lawsuit are biased because of his Mexican heritage — he is an American citizen born in Indiana to Mexican parents. In those attacks, Trump has mentioned he is building that wall.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s comments the “textbook definition of racism.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the candidate to knock it off and get on message. Sen. Mark Kirk became the first major Republican to take back his endorsement of Trump. Lots more where that came from earlier in the day.
This afternoon, Trump issued a statement, standing by his remarks about the judge, which he said the media had “misconstrued.” Then he said he was done talking about it.
And, in a victory-lap speech delivered from his golf course in Briarcliff tonight, the only candidate left standing in the GOP’s White House race pivoted from attacking judges born in Indiana to attacking the party’s preferred target: the Clintons.
The Clintons, Trump said, reading from a teleprompter, “have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form for themselves.”
He added: “I am going to give a major speech, probably Monday of next week, and discuss all the things that have taken place with the Clintons. You’re going to find it very informative and very very interesting. I wonder if the press will be willing to attend. Who knows?”
Clinton returned the favor in her speech:
“Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief,” she began. “He’s not just trying to build a wall between America and Mexico; he’s trying to wall off Americans from each other. When he says ‘Let’s make America great again,’ that’s code for ‘Let’s take America backwards’ – back to a time when opportunity and dignity were reserved for some, not all, promising his supporters an economy he cannot recreate. We want to write the next chapter in American greatness, with a 21st century prosperity that lifts everyone who has been left out and left behind.
“When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage, or he mocks a reporter with disabilities, or calls women ‘pigs,’ it goes against everything we stand for,” Clinton added. “We want an America where everyone is treated with respect and where their work is valued.”
Trump also took some whacks at Washington bigwigs, answering today’s critics. “I beat a rigged system by getting overwhelming support with every demographic,” Trump boasted. “After years of disappointment, we can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the very people who rigged it. And they rigged it, and do not ever think anything different. We can’t solve our problems by counting on the politicians that created the problems.”
Clinton reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the eve of Tuesday’s voting, the Associated Press reported the previous afternoon. That total included pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates — the party officials and officeholders who can back a candidate of their choosing, AP explained.
Heading into Tuesday’s voting, Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates and the support of 571 of the 714 superdelegates, according to the AP’s count.