Hillary Clinton has secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination, according to US media outlets, but still her campaign urged supporters to get to the polls yesterday to avoid a loss to Bernie Sanders in California as she seeks to unite the party.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said they were pushing supporters and volunteers to “stay at this” as California, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico held nominating contests.
A former US secretary of state, Clinton would be the first woman presidential candidate of a major US political party.
“We’re on the verge of making history and we’re going to celebrate that tonight,” Mook told CNN. “There’s a lot of people we want to make sure turn out. We do not want to send a message that anybody’s vote doesn’t count.”
California was the biggest prize — the last and largest state to vote in what became a surprisingly protracted and bitter Democratic primary race to pick a nominee for the November 8 presidential election.
Clinton is anxious to turn her full attention to the general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
She secured the endorsement yesterday of US Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California, who as House Democratic leader withheld her support until voting day.
President Barack Obama himself was eager to start campaigning, the White House said, but wanted to give voters an opportunity to cast ballots before weighing in on the Democratic race.
Sanders, a US senator from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, has vowed to continue the fight until the party convention that formally picks the nominee. He has commanded huge crowds in parks and stadiums, galvanising younger voters with his promises to address economic inequality.
However, Clinton has continued to edge out Sanders, particularly among older voters with longer ties to the Democratic Party. She has led a more pragmatic campaign, focused on building on Obama’s policies.
After the Associated Press and NBC reported Clinton had clinched the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, a Sanders campaign spokesman castigated what he said was the media’s “rush to judgement”.
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, and Clinton has a clear lead in those ‘pledged’ delegates.
However, the delegate count, where Clinton’s support outnumbers Sanders’ by more than 10 to 1, also includes ‘superdelegates’ — party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors who in theory can change their mind at any time.