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Clinton declares herself Democratic nominee

The former first lady, US senator and secretary of state celebrated her victory in the nominating race over rival Bernie Sanders

Published: Updated:

Hillary Clinton declared herself the Democratic Party nominee for US president on Tuesday, embracing her role in history as the first woman to lead a major party in a race for the White House.

The former first lady, US senator and secretary of state celebrated her victory in the nominating race over rival Bernie Sanders at a raucous event with supporters in Brooklyn, New York, where Clinton placed her achievement in the context of the long history of the women’s rights movement.

“Thanks to you, we have reached a milestone,” Clinton said in a speech. “We all owe so much to who came before.”

Clinton, 68, spoke shortly after beating Sanders in New Jersey’s nominating contest, expanding her lead in the delegates needed to clinch the nomination and setting up a five-month general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election.

New Jersey was one of six states holding contests on Tuesday, including California, the big prize where Clinton was still at risk of an embarrassing loss to Sanders as she heads into the campaign against Trump.

Polls in California closed at 11 p.m. EDT, but news networks said the race was too close to call.

In her speech, Clinton appealed to Sanders supporters to join her and said the Democratic Party had been bolstered by his campaign for eradicating income inequality, which has commanded huge crowds and galvanized younger voters.

Clinton edged Sanders out, especially among older voters, with a more pragmatic campaign focused on building on the policies of her fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama.

Sanders refused to concede defeat to Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, vowing to stay in the Democratic nomination battle despite his rival declaring herself the party's flagbearer for the US presidential race.

Sanders had at least one victory over Clinton, in the state of Montana during the night. Although he will be unable to catch Clinton even if he wins the primary in California, America’s most populous state, a triumph there could fuel his continued presence in the race and underscore Clinton’s weaknesses as she battles Trump.

The White House issued a statement saying Obama had called both Clinton and Sanders on Tuesday. It said he congratulated her on securing the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination and would meet Sanders on Thursday at Sanders’ request.