Hillary Clinton moves closer to nomination with wins in four states
Clinton sees strong night with wins in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut while Bernie Sanders wins in Rhode Island
Hillary Clinton appears to be within touching distance of the Democratic nomination after four victories on a dominant night in Tuesdays primary elections.
Maryland, called by the Associated Press moments after polls closed at 8pm eastern time, was the first of a convincing night. And 38 minutes later, Delaware followed Clintons margin there was 59% to 39%.
Pennsylvania, the biggest state of the night with 210 delegates on offer, was also called for Clinton at 9.01pm with 70% of the votes counted, she was 56% to 43% ahead of Bernie Sanders.
Connecticut was called at 10.31pm, where with 80% of the votes in, Clinton led by 50% to 48%.
The only consolation for Sanders came when he was declared the winner in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union by a margin of 55% to 43%.
Clinton took the stage in Philadelphia to Eye of the Tiger the theme song from the Rocky movie series, filmed in the same city. But in her moment of triumph, Clinton extended a hand to opponent, Bernie Sanders, as part of a broader pitch for unity while cementing her standing as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
I applaud Senator Sanders and his millions of supporters for challenging us, Clinton said, citing in particular issues such as money in politics and income inequality.
Whether you support Senator Sanders or you support me, theres much more that unites us than divides us … We all agree that wages are too low and inequality is too high. That Wall Street can never again be allowed to threaten Main Street.
I know that together, we will get that done, she added. This is how progress gets made. We can be both dreamers and doers.
Clinton made an appeal not just to Democrats, but also to those in the opposing party who were frustrated with the choice they faced between the likes of Trump and Cruz both outsiders viewed as equally unpalatable to the Republican establishment.
If you are a Democrat, an independent or a thoughtful Republican, you know that their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality, Clinton said.
Having spent the day campaigning in Indiana, which will hold its own primary on 3 May, Clinton pivoted toward the general election while urging Democrats to rally behind her candidacy. Drawing a sharp contrast with Trump and Cruz, Clinton asserted that her Republican rivals were seeking to demonize groups such as immigrants and Muslims, as well as threatening the rights of women and LGBT individuals.
The former secretary of state singled out Trump over his claim that she was playing the gender card, drawing upon a common stump speech line to emphasize that she had no qualms about running on the historic nature of her candidacy. Deal me in, Clinton exclaimed.
With her three victories, Clinton now has 88% of the delegates she needs to become the first woman nominated by a major party.
Sanders has made clear that he has the funding and the determination to fight on all the way to the summer convention in Philadelphia, but his prospects are diminishing by the week.
The Vermont senator was defiant in a speech to supporters in Huntington, West Virginia, saying that some national polls now show him leading Clinton.
He also leads Donald Trump by a bigger margin than she does, he added, noting that independent voters have not been able to vote for him in some Democratic primaries.
In a general election, everyone Democrat, independent, Republican has the right to vote for president. The elections are not closed primaries. We were in New York state last week. Three million people in New York state could not vote because they were independents. Those folks, in November, will be voting for the next president of the United States.
While there was no olive branch from Sanders and he showed a keen desire to make his speech before a string of defeats were confirmed Clinton is on track to defeat him.
Her early wins presaged a strong showing in the five north-eastern states voting in the so-called Acela primary a reference to the rail line which connects Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The successful night puts her on course to become the first female candidate for either major party in a general election.
Before Tuesdays votes were counted, the former first lady and secretary of state had already racked up 82% of the delegates needed to clinch her partys nomination. By the end of the night, the race could be all but mathematically over.
Clinton was already looking ahead on Tuesday afternoon, spending the day campaigning in Indiana, ahead of its 3 May primary. She toured Munster Steel Co in Hammond, Indiana, a steel and iron manufacturing site founded in 1957.
Addressing the workers who fabricate steel for buildings and bridges, Clinton vowed, if elected, to make the steel industrys survival one of my top priorities.
As president, I will go to bat for all of our trades, she said.
Clinton has largely shifted gears towards the general election in recent weeks, seldom mentioning Sanders in her stump speech and focusing instead on drawing a contrast to Trump and Ted Cruz. At the steel plant, Clinton rebuked Trumps assertion that wages were too high and also criticized a proposal by Cruz that would chip away at union and workers rights.
Clinton also toured the plant of AM General, a heavy vehicle manufacturer in Mishawaka, Indiana, that makes, among other vehicles, Mercedes that are only sold in China. In remarks to employees after inspecting the facility, Clinton struck similar themes about the need to bring auto industry jobs back to America and spoke of a proposed manufacturing renaissance.
Clinton took an aggressive posture toward China, which she charged with abusing global trade rules such as dumping steel on international markets.
Here, Clinton did take a swipe at Sanders over his vote in 2009 against a second round of funding to bail out the auto industry.
My esteemed opponent in this primary he voted not to provide the funding the auto industry needed, Clinton said.
In the coming weeks, Clinton will continue to ratchet up her focus on jobs and the economy after solidifying her standing as the Democratic nominee-in-waiting. Manufacturing, she said, would be at the core of her plans to lift the middle class.
Before the polls closed, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he did not think Sanders had a path to winning. No, I do not, he told reporters. Bernie is going to do what he feels is appropriate and I have every confidence that Bernie, his number one issue is not him, its the country.
However, the Vermont senator has the enthusiastic support and the will to soldier on. On Tuesday afternoon, his campaign issued a defiant email that contained a photo of Clinton smiling up at Donald Trump that was taken when she attended his wedding in 2005. It had the pointed caption: Donald Trump and the one candidate in this race he said would make a great president.
The Sanders fundraising email arrived on a day when the Republican frontrunner wrote on Twitter that Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats and should run as an independent.
Sanders has said he would not make an independent run for the White House. But he declared on ABCs Good Morning America on Tuesday: I dont want to break the bad news to you, but the election is not over yet.
He also warned that Clinton still had to convince the vast majority of the people … that she is on their side.
With her march to the nomination seemingly unstoppable, Clinton must now harness Sanders fan base many of them millennials and build Democratic party unity. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released this week found that four in 10 Sanders supporters said they were not sure if they would vote for Clinton. Another 13% said they would vote for Trump over Clinton.
On MSNBC on Monday, Clinton challenged the notion that she would have to adopt more of Sanders leftwing platform to win over his supporters, saying that she has won more votes and delegates and offered her own specific policy plans. She also said that she did not make demands in 2008, when she lost to Obama.
We got to the end in June and I did not put down conditions, he said. I didnt say, You know what, if Senator Obama does W, Y, and Z, maybe Ill support him.