Hilary inches closer but all eyes on California primaries

Philadelphia : Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gestures at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. AP/PTI

Hillary Clinton firmed her odds to claim the Democratic mantle with a strong win on Sunday in the island territory of Puerto Rico a day after the US Virgin Islands voted overwhelmingly for her. She is now a step closer to overwhelm her party rival Bernie Sanders and set up a historic US presidential election showdown with Republican Donald Trump.

For the former Secretary of State, the nomination will be a monumental step towards fulfilling her dream of returning to the White House as commander in chief, 16 years after serving as first lady to former president Bill Clinton.

However, any adverse result in California, where the delegates will vote on Tuesday, would blunt that momentum and potentially complicate Clinton’s efforts to unify the party.

“I believe on Tuesday I will have decisively won the popular vote and I will have decisively won the pledged delegate majority,” Hilary Clinton said ruling out any set-back. “After Tuesday I’m going to do everything I can to reach out to try to unify the Democratic Party and I expect Senator Sanders to do the same,” she added.

Clinching the nomination will launch an unprecedented battle between a candidate seeking to break the glass ceiling and become the country’s first female commander in chief, and a provocative billionaire businessman and political neophyte who has changed the face of American campaigning.

But on the other hand, Sanders contends Clinton’s lead is largely based on support from so-called super-delegates, party big-wigs who are not bound to vote for a specific candidate, and he proclaimed he will take his nomination fight all the way to the Democratic convention in July.

Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, further argued he could persuade many of the more than 500 super-delegates who back Clinton to reverse course and vote for him, adding that it would be “not quite accurate” for Clinton to claim victory by counting super-delegates before the convention.

Sanders has signalled he will use the time between the final Democratic primary — June 14 in the US capital Washington — and the July 25-28 convention to win over super-delegates.

According to reports, even a strong show by Sanders on Tuesday may not deny Clinton crossing the threshold. Hilary Clinton now stands at 2,354 total delegates, according to CNN’s tally, just 29 shy of the number needed for victory.

(With inputs from the Agencies)