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Clinton Secures Delegates Needed for Nomination

The Associated Press declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Democratic nomination on Monday.

“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do,” Clinton said at the start of a Monday rally in Long Beach, Calif., shortly after the AP made the call.

The Hill reports:

In a statement Monday night, the campaign also cautioned that the results were not a done deal.

“This is an important milestone, but there are six states that are voting Tuesday, with millions of people heading to the polls, and Hillary Clinton is working to earn every vote,” campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement. “We look forward to Tuesday night, when Hillary Clinton will clinch not only a win in the popular vote, but also the majority of pledged delegates.”

In a response, the rival Democratic campaign of Bernie Sanders said it was wrong to count the superdelegates — party leaders who can choose any candidate — before they actually vote at the Democratic National Convention in July.

“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” the campaign said.

“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then. They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race.

“Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”

But the delegate total reported by the AP means Clinton has the nomination in hand unless hundreds of superdelegates who have pledged to support her unexpectedly change their minds. She will almost certainly become the first female presidential nominee at the convention.

Though Sanders is challenging her status as the presumptive nominee, it marks a major victory for Clinton and marks the start of a brutal general election campaign against Republican Donald Trump.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which has not endorsed a candidate, released a statement Monday night urging the party to look ahead to November.

“The way to unify millions of Sanders and Clinton supporters and inspire general election voters is to unite the party behind a truly bold progressive platform.”

The PCCC urged Democratic Platform Committee members to embrace “popular, progressive ideas” that are not currently in the party platform, including some championed by Sanders such as “expanding Social Security benefits, debt-free college, breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and monopolies, a $15 minimum wage” and others.

Polls show a close race for California’s 475 pledged delegates. And while a strong performance for Sanders on Tuesday would energize his supporters, he’ll remain far short of Clinton’s total. Monday’s milestone makes Sanders’s efforts all the more quixotic and bolsters her call for the party to unite around her.

Still, the insurgent Democratic candidate is not likely to drop out unless he suffers a major defeat in California.

Clinton’s victory is not outright, however, because her reported delegate majority relies on superdelegate support. The AP shows her with 571 superdelegates to Sanders’s 48.

Sanders has argued as of late that since superdelegates don’t vote until the convention, he still has time to convince them to switch sides.

But he hasn’t always felt that way: He previously called on superdelegates to follow the overall results of their states — a scenario in which he’d still fall short — and he backed then-Sen.Barack Obama (Ill.) after he clinched the nomination in 2008, before Clinton had left the race.

Orchestrating a superdelegate exodus would be a herculean effort, and only a few have left Clinton so far.

If Clinton maintains her typical pace and wins about 54 percent of the pledged delegates available in the contests Tuesday and next week in Washington, D.C., she would end up less than 200 pledged delegates short of the nomination. Sanders would fall 535 short.

That puts the race into the hands of the party’s more than 700 superdelegates, with fewer than 100 still not publicly committed to either candidate. That means Clinton could lose more than half of her current superdelegate support and still have enough to claim the nomination.

The former secretary of State has already begun her pivot to the general election, with her campaign declaring her lead against Sanders as early as March.

But she has had to keep one foot in both the primary and the general elections as Sanders stayed on her heels, delaying Democrats’ efforts to unify the party and take on the unpredictable Trump.

Polls currently show Clinton and Trump locked in a tight battle for the White House. Clinton allies hope that her lead will grow as Sanders supporters begin to fall in line, but that’s no guarantee considering the tough rhetoric from the candidate and his voters, as well as continued clashes and accusations lobbed by the two sides.

NBC News announced shortly before 9 p.m. that it would begin calling Clinton the Democrat’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Photo credit: Twitter.

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