History Made: Hillary Clinton Declares Victory in Democratic Presidential Primary and Becomes the First Major-Party Female Nominee
Hillary Clinton acknowledged her triumph after polls closed on Super Tuesday
Nearly 14 months after announcing her presidential campaign, nine years after she first ran for president and 15 years after she exited the White House as first lady, Hillary Clinton has accomplished something no other American woman has done before: become the presumptive presidential nominee for a major political party.
The former Secretary of State declared victory in the bruising Democratic primary Tuesday after a tougher-than-expected battle against Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
“Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible,” Clinton said Tuesday during a speech at the Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, after a campaign video gave a nod to pioneering women before her.
“There are still ceilings to break for women and men, for all of us,” she said later. “But don’t let anyone tell you that great things can’t happen in America. Barriers can come down, justice and equality can win. Our history has moved in that direction – slowly at times, but unmistakably thanks to generation of Americans who refused to give up or back down.”
Before her speech, Clinton acknowledged her historic moment on Twitter – and changed her avatar to a photo with the words “history made.”
“To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want even president. Tonight is for you. -H”
Clinton’s remarks concluded June’s Super Tuesday, which had voters heading to the polls in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and the Dakotas. Clinton was declared the winner in New Jersey less than an hour and a half after polls closed. Later results from New Mexico and South Dakota showed Clinton as the winner, while Sanders snagged a victory in North Dakota.
The Illinois native, Wellesley graduate and Yale-trained lawyer who also served as U.S. Senator from New York will now face Donald Trump in the general election on Nov. 8, and the two have been escalating their attacks on one another in recent weeks.
Trump, who officially clinched his party’s nomination late last month – several weeks after opponents Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race – was also expected to win Tuesday’s GOP primaries in New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana and California. (So far, they’ve called New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota and New Jersey for the real estate mogul).
On Tuesday night, after polls closed in New Jersey, Trump spoke to supporters at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and said he plans to give a “major speech to discuss all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons” early next week.
“The last thing we need is Hillary Clinton in the White House, an extension of the Obama disaster,” he said Tuesday night.
Clinton said Tuesday night that Trump “is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief.”
The contests came one day after the Associated Press declared that Clinton had secured enough superdelegates to clinch the Democratic nomination. Sanders, who won the North Dakota caucus Tuesday, has said he plans to return home to Burlington, Vermont, this week to “assess” where his campaign stands.
Clinton reached out to Sanders supporters on Tuesday night, saying “let there be no mistake – Sen. Sanders, his campaign, and the vigorous debate that we’ve had … have been very good for the Democratic party and for America.”
“It never feels good to put your heart into a cause or a candidate you believe in and come up short. I know that feeling well. But as we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let’s remember all that unites us.”
On Monday, Clinton said she was “flattered” by news of her victory, but remained low-key in advance of Tuesday’s races.
“We are on the brink of a historic moment, but we still have work to do,” she Tweeted.
Her supporters, however, pointed out the significance of the history-making moment as they urged people to cast their ballot.
“#HILLARY2016 Nothing can keep a strong woman down. VOTE for the first female US president in history. Shake it up America, this country needs a little rock n roll,” Lady Gaga captioned an Instagram photo she shared Tuesday featuring herself in a patriotic swimsuit while endorsing the candidate.
“It’s raining glass. 240 years. #ImWithHer,” tweeted comedy writer Paula Pell above a vintage photo of the candidate.
Celebrities including Lena Dunham, George Clooney and Katy Perry have also declared their support for Clinton – with the Clooneys even hosting a fundraiser for the former First Lady at their Southern California home in April.
WATCH: Stars Show Their Support for Presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton
Clinton can also count on another big-name endorsement: her former boss, President Barack Obama. The president, who defeated Clinton in the 2008 campaign and then worked alongside her during her four years as secretary of state, could endorse Clinton as soon as this week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, per the Washington Post.
Obama reportedly telephoned Sanders on Sunday, with the senator stepping off his campaign bus so he could talk privately to the commander-in-chief. Although it’s unclear precisely what the two politicians discussed, it’s believed that Obama told Sanders he planned to back Clinton.
Meanwhile, senior Obama aides told The New York Times they are in active discussions about what role the president will play in her campaign. White House officials told the Times the president’s plans are not expected to change even if Sanders decides to fight on.
On Tuesday night, the president made another round of calls to both, Clinton and Sanders, congratulating the politicians “for running inspiring campaigns that have energized Democrats, [and] brought a new generation of Americans into the political process,” according to a release from the office of the press secretary.
More specifically, President Obama also agreed to meet with Sanders at the White House on Thursday – per the senator’s request.
“The President looks forward to continuing the conversation with Senator Sanders about how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead,” the release added.
As for Clinton, Obama congratulated her for gaining all of the necessary number of delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee.
With the Democratic primary victory now officially in hand, Clinton still has a long road ahead. However, the candidate took time Tuesday to acknowledge the milestone she reached in both politics and feminism.
“This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits on any of us,” she said. “And this is our moment to come together.”
• With reporting by SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL