WASHINGTON: Hillary Clinton won four of six Democratic party nominating contests on Tuesday to become the first woman from a major party to run for US president, smashing the glass ceiling she left cracked but intact in 2008.
Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee who will face Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the general election five months away in November.
But her rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, has refused to bow out and reiterated in a late night address his determination to go right up to the Democratic convention in July.
Clinton won California, the delegates-rich big prize of the night, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota; and Sanders took the remaining two, North Dakota and Montana.
Her combined total of delegates — pledged and un-pledged superdelegates — was much more than the 2,383 needed to clinch the nomination; she now has 2,755 delegates.
But with just 2,184 of them being pledged delegates (the rest are superdelegates), she misses the threshold, which is pointed out by Sanders as his reason for continuing the battle.
President Barack Obama, who spoke to both on Tuesday, is meeting Sanders on Thursday at the candidate’s request, and may persuade him to exit the race in the interest of the party.
Clinton, who spoke of the glass ceiling after her failed run for the nomination in 2008 and the 18 million cracks she left on it (votes she polled in the primaries), has moved on already.
Praising Sanders and his “extraordinary” campaign, Clinton pitched for party unity in her victory speech, saying, “As we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let’s remember all that unites us.”
That battle ahead, of course, is Trump, who has been under fire for his racist remarks about a federal judge overseeing cases against his now defunct Trump University.
He has been criticised even by his own party. Speaker Paul Ryan called the remarks “indefensible” and Mark Kirk, a senator seeking re-election, has withdrawn his endorsement of Trump.
A chastened Trump has claimed his comment about the judge was “misconstrued”.