Washington, June 8 (IANS) Hillary Clinton cemented her position as the Democratic nominee for president with emphatic wins in California, New Jersey and New Mexico primaries, even as her rival Bernie Sanders refused to back out of the presidential race, despite the widening gap in delegate count.
Her victory in the primaries comes as Clinton clinched the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, becoming the first woman in America’s 240-year history to be the presumptive nominee of a major US political party.
On Tuesday, the former first lady led the party primary in California with 56 per cent of the votes, according to results released after over 92 precincts partially reported as of early Wednesday morning, Xinhua news agency reported.
“For the first time in our history, a woman will be chosen as presidential candidate for a major political party,” said a victorious Clinton at a rally in Brooklyn, New York in front of her supporters.
“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone,” she said in a speech which began with clear signs of emotion by the historical moment.
Her rival and Vermont Senator Sanders got 43 per cent.
The California primary results further consolidated Clinton’s chance to be the presidential nominee. Ahead of these primaries, Clinton had secured 1,812 pledged delegates and 572 superdelegates for a total of 2,384 delegates — one more than needed for the nomination,
However, Sanders told his supporters that he will not drop out of the race but will continue fighting for every vote and every delegate.
The 74-year-old told a full house of supporters in Santa Monica on Tuesday that he will continue to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, DC next Tuesday, which will be the last primary.
“And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” he said, in reference to the Democratic National Convention on July 25, where Sanders pins his hope to turn the tide by gaining more superdelegates’ support.
Sanders has insisted throughout the campaign that he would stick to his presidential bid all the way to the convention, even if Clinton becomes the presumptive nominee.
As results rolled in after the voting ended on Tuesday night at 8 p.m., Clinton’s percentage of votes dropped from about 63 per cent at the beginning to 56 per cent.
Simon Hu, an 18-year-old first-time Chinese-American voter, told Xinhua news agency that he would vote for Clinton as it is not easy to have a female presidential candidate.
“It will be a historic moment if Clinton can win,” he said.
Clinton on Tuesday wrote on her Twitter account: “To every little girl who dreams big: yes, you can be anything you want — even president. Tonight is for you.”
Though there are American media reports that according to a survey of superdelegates, Clinton had already earned the required number of delegates to claim the Democratic nomination, Sanders insisted that Clinton “will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 (at the party convention) and who can change their minds between now and then.”
On the Republican side, with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio dropping out, Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee. Trump got more than 75 per cent of the votes in Tuesday’s primary.
Also on Tuesday, California voters cast ballots for state-wide and local offices, as well as one ballot initiative.
A record 17.9 million people have registered to vote in delegate-heavy California.
It may take several days for an accurate assessment of voter turnout.