History already in hand, Hillary Clinton will celebrate becoming the first woman to lead a major American political party on Tuesday following votes in California, New Jersey and four other states contests.
Ms. Clinton reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the eve of Tuesday’s voting, according to an Associated Press tally. Her total is comprised of pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates the party officials and officeholders who can back a candidate of their choosing.
The AP surveyed the superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months. While they can change their minds, those counted in Ms. Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.
During a rally on Monday evening in San Francisco, Mr. Sanders said a victory in California would give him “enormous momentum” in his bid to push the Democratic primary to a convention fight. Mr. Sanders is urging superdelegates to drop their support for Ms. Clinton before the gathering in Philadelphia, arguing he is a stronger candidate to take on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
But Mr. Sanders has so far been unable to sway the superdelegates, and there were signs that he was taking stock of his standing in the race. Speaking to reporters, Mr.Sanders said he planned to return to Vermont on Wednesday and “assess where we are” following the California results.
The senator’s comments came on the heels of a weekend phone call with President Barack Obama, who has stayed out of the Democratic primary to date but is poised to endorse Ms.Clinton as early as this week.
Ms. Clinton’s victory is broadly decisive. She leads Mr. Sanders by more than 3 million cast votes, by 291 pledged delegates and by 523 superdelegates. She won 29 caucuses and primaries in states and U.S. territories to his 21 victories.
Ms. Clinton has been eager to move past the protracted primary and fully turn her attention to her general election battle with Trump. She energized Democrats with a blistering speech last week challenging Trump’s qualifications for the presidency, reassuring supporters that she’s prepared for a bruising campaign against the unpredictable businessman.
Mr. Trump vanquished his remaining Republican rivals about a month ago, a stunning achievement for the untested political candidate. Despite his controversial statements about minorities and his vague policy proposals, many Republicans quickly consolidated around his nomination.
But Mr. Trump has continued to irritate GOP officials, including with his recent criticism of a U.S. district court judge. Trump has said Judge Gonzalo Curiel can’t be impartial in a legal case involving the businessman because his parents were born in Mexico and Trump wants to build a wall along the border.
Several leading Republicans, as well as legal scholars, have flatly rejected the logic of that argument.
Mr. Trump also continues to struggle to build out a robust general election campaign staff in battleground states or a national fundraising network, though the real estate mogul insists he can win without the trappings of a traditional campaign.
Mr. Trump was also spending Tuesday in New York, with a primetime event scheduled at his golf resort in Westchester.
New Jersey and California are the biggest prizes up for grabs Tuesday, with Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota also holding contests. The final Democratic primary will be held next week in the District of Columbia.