US Elections 2016

Clinton calls for party unity, Sanders refuses to budge

Mrs Clinton secures her place in history as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party in the US.
Mrs Clinton secures her place in history as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party in the US.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Taking the fight to July convention would be disservice to Democrats: Analyst

Mrs Hillary Clinton got straight to work trying to unite the Democratic Party against Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday, after securing her place in history as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party in the country.

Playing a video that featured women and minority races before taking the stage for her victory speech on Tuesday night, she said: "Whether you supported me, or Senator Sanders or one of the Republicans, we all need to keep working towards building a better, stronger America."

But analysts say unity might prove difficult if Vermont senator Bernie Sanders does not graciously bow out of the competition before July.

"If Senator Sanders goes to the convention, he will be doing a huge disservice to Democrats and to liberals," said Assistant Professor Kelly Winfrey from Iowa State University, an expert on women and politics.

"Sanders needs to do what Hillary Clinton did in 2008 - end his campaign, endorse the eventual nominee and urge his supporters to vote for Clinton," added Dr Winfrey.

But Mr Sanders showed few signs of slowing down even after a poor showing, sweeping just two states - Montana and North Dakota - during Tuesday's primary, while Mrs Clinton took New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and the much-coveted state of California.

AMERICA COMES FIRST

Whether you supported me, or Senator Sanders or one of the Republicans, we all need to keep working towards building a better, stronger America.

MRS HILLARY CLINTON, calling on Americans to stay united.

Mr Sanders told supporters in Santa Monica, California, that he would continue the fight in the last primary in Washington DC next Tuesday and "we would take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia".

Dr Winfrey said: "If he takes the battle to the convention, it is likely he will make his supporters even more untrusting of the political system resulting in them not voting at all or voting for Trump."

Stepping in as a peacemaker of sorts was US President Barack Obama, who called both Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders on Tuesday night to congratulate them on their campaigns which he said have energised Democrats and "shone a spotlight on important policy ideas", according to a White House statement.

With one more primary contest to go, Mr Obama held back on any official endorsement, but congratulated Mrs Clinton on securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic nomination for President.

The statement added that Mr Obama will meet Mr Sanders today to "continue their conversation about the significant issues at stake in this election that matter most to America's working families".

It noted that this was being done at Mr Sanders' request - a gesture that would hopefully show supporters that the establishment is taking heed of Mr Sanders' agenda.

The US media had declared on Monday night that Mrs Clinton had the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, but she chose to wait till Tuesday - after six states held their contests - to declare victory.

The wins officially pushed her over the finish line, gaining a majority of pledged delegates - a goal the Sanders' campaign had been trying to achieve in order to sway Superdelegates over to his camp. Typically party officials, Superdelegates are not bound to any candidate but an overwhelming majority have pledged their support for Mrs Clinton.

Ms Ashley Koning of Eagleton Centre for Public Interest Polling said this would "once and for all mathematically end what has been a long and increasingly embittered nomination process", adding that Mrs Clinton can now turn her attention to the general election in November.

While Mrs Clinton congratulated Mr Sanders on his campaign and acknowledged that their vigorous debates were good for the Democratic party and America, she slammed her Republican opponent.

She called Mr Trump "temperamentally unfit" to be president, and added that he was not only trying to build a wall between the US and Mexico, but also "trying to wall off Americans from each other". Mr Trump had recently made controversial comments about the judge presiding over two Trump University lawsuits, saying he was unfair and biased because of his Mexican heritage.

Mrs Clinton told the crowd in Brooklyn, New York, that this election would be about "who we are as a nation".

"It's about millions of Americans coming together to say, we are better than this, we won't let this happen to America," she said.

And while she would take a moment to "fully absorb the history we have made here", she added: "What I care about most is the history we have yet to write."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton calls for party unity, Sanders refuses to budge'. Print Edition | Subscribe