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Clinton Clinches Democratic Nomination: AP Delegate Count

Hillary Clinton has reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, the Associated Press said on Monday, putting her on course to become the first woman to head a major U.S. party ticket.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates, the AP reported.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.

The Democratic Party holds its convention in Philadelphia in July to formally choose its nominee for the Nov. 8 election against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

(Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a speech during a campaign stop in Lynwood, California, United States June 6, 2016.   REUTERS/Mike Blake 

Obama Close To Endorsing Clinton For Democratic Presidential Nominee: Media

By James Oliphant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – After staying above the campaign fray for months, U.S. President Barack Obama could endorse Hillary Clinton as early as this week as the Democratic presidential nominee, nudging Bernie Sanders to finally abandon his long-fought challenge, U.S. media reported on Monday.

The expected Obama endorsement, reported by The New York Times and CNN, would come as a welcome boost to Clinton and to Democrats concerned that the party needs to turn its attention fully to campaigning against Republican nominee Donald Trump.

While he has made remarks indicating a preference for Clinton, his former secretary of state, Obama has so far avoided a clear endorsement and has focused his remarks about the campaign on blasting Trump.

A senior White House official would not comment on timing of any endorsement but said Obama is eager to campaign where he might be useful.

Clinton has long been the front-runner to be the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 8 election but has faced an unexpectedly tough fight against Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who has attacked her from the left.

She is expected to clinch the party nomination on Tuesday when voters in six states cast ballots. Her campaign hopes an expected victory in New Jersey will give her enough delegates to effectively lock up the nomination early in the evening, before the results come in from California, the biggest electoral prize and likely the last to report results on Tuesday.

But although he lags well behind in delegates needed to win the nomination, Sanders has vowed to take the fight to the Democratic National Convention in July.

Clinton supporters said on Monday that Sanders should acknowledge her victory and move toward uniting the party behind her.

“I think at the bare minimum what he can do is not try to delegitimize the process or call into question the fact that Hillary Clinton is truly the nominee after Tuesday,” Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, said on CNN.

Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and a former Clinton campaign staffer, said her June 2008 concession to Obama in the closely fought Democratic primary that year should be a roadmap for Sanders.

“She gave her supporters who wanted a chance to vote for her a chance to vote for her. Then she stood up and said to her supporters, ‘Now let’s get behind the presumptive nominee,'” Elleithee said.

 

CALIFORNIA VOTES

Clinton has 2,357 delegates going into Tuesday’s contests, just 26 short of the 2,383 she needs to clinch the nomination at next month’s convention in Philadelphia.

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico also hold nominating contests on Tuesday, but most attention will focus on California. Clinton once held a sizable lead there over Sanders, but opinion polls in recent days show a dead heat between the two.

While Clinton expects to become the presumptive nominee regardless of the California result, a Sanders victory there could embolden his supporters to urge him to wage a fractious convention fight.

It could also help Trump argue that she is a weak candidate. Trump secured the delegates he needed to clinch the Republican nomination last month, leaving him free to focus on battering Clinton.

Sanders’ campaign appeared to burn through cash to get to the final nominating contests, ending April with just $5.8 million on hand, compared to Clinton’s $30 million. The senator has not released his May fundraising figures. Spokesman Michael Briggs said in an email the campaign was “doing fine.”

Clinton heads into Tuesday’s contests with a victory this weekend in Puerto Rico’s primary. And though Sanders could campaign in Washington, D.C., ahead of the final primary of the year on June 14, Clinton is expected to win there.

Trump, a real estate developer, has regularly stirred up controversy on the campaign trail and has frequently dismayed Republican establishment leaders. In recent days, his comments about a judge he believes to be biased against him because he is Mexican-American have drawn a fresh wave of criticism, including concern in his own party.

On Monday Trump rejected criticism of his allegations of bias, insisting his concerns were valid.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll shows Clinton with an 11-percentage-point edge over Trump, 46 percent to 35 percent, a marked change from just 10 days ago, when fewer than 4 percentage points separated the two.

 

(Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson, Amanda Becker, Emily Stephenson, Timothy Gardner and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Caren Bohan and Frances Kerry)

Iran Debate: Clinton Steps Up To Oppose The Demagogues

When Sarah Palin joins Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and a motley crew of crazies in Washington this week to rally against the Iran nuclear deal, the speeches are likely to reflect the incoherence of the opposition. None of these right-wing celebrities appears to comprehend its terms, how it was negotiated or – most important – why its failure would probably lead to yet another horrific war.

On that same day, as Cruz, Trump, and Palin blather on about their love of Israel, their hatred for Barack Obama, and their determination to “make America great again,” someone else will step up to support the agreement – someone whose diplomatic efforts laid the groundwork for successful negotiations with Tehran.

That would be Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Scheduling a major speech on the Iran deal for the same day as the Washington event, Clinton is plainly determined to display her mastery of its details as well as her defiance of the right-wing opposition.

But this speech — which could become one of the best moments in public life — will also prove just how far she has come since the last time she ran for president.

That’s because Iran was the subject of one of the most troubling moments in her 2008 campaign, when she promised to “totally obliterate” that country (and presumably its 70 million-plus population) if the mullahs ever attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon. Having uttered that genocidal threat in response to a provocative question, she reiterated the same bluster a few days later on ABC News’ This Week.

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran [if they attack Israel with nuclear weapons]. And I want them to understand that. … I think we have to be very clear about what we would do,” she told host George Stephanopoulos.

At the time, in early May 2008, it wasn’t clear why the Iranians needed to “understand” any such ultimatum, since our own intelligence showed that they neither had nuclear weapons nor were likely to possess such weapons any time soon – and that the Israeli military was (and is) fully capable of nuclear retaliation. Clinton’s harsh rhetoric seemed to be aimed more directly at Obama, her primary opponent, whose aim of negotiating with traditional enemies like Tehran she had denounced as “naïve.”

Those who expected better from her pointed to her Mideast advisors, who advocated an opening to Iran, and to her own previous remarks about the imperative of talking with “bad people” as a sign of strength, not weakness. But at that moment, she seemed to echo John McCain and the “bomb Iran” chorus among the Republicans.

Much has changed since 2008, of course – including the leadership of the Iranian government. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the aggressive Holocaust denier who held the Iranian presidency back then, gave way in 2013 to Hassan Rouhani, a reformer who wants to end his country’s international isolation. Thanks in part to Clinton’s work as Secretary of State, a powerful and unprecedented international alliance enforced real sanctions that finally pushed Iran into serious negotiations. And since those negotiations began, Rouhani’s government has heeded the required limitations on its nuclear activities.

Perhaps Clinton hasn’t changed. After all, she has always believed that diplomacy, aid, and other aspects of American power are just as fundamental to our security as military force. But she has found a balance and a voice that are more vital than ever in a contest against irresponsible politicians, whose demagogy points us again toward war.

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses a panel on healthcare in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 4, 2015. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Same Old Media Double Standard — And More To Come From This Clinton ‘Fan’

Bob Somerby, longtime proprietor of The Daily Howler weblog, is truly expert in dissecting the pieties, pomposities, and pap provided by the mainstream media on the topic of “scandal.” Today he examines the latest works of The New York Times‘ Frank Bruni and The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus — who forthrightly declares herself a “fan of Hillary Clinton,” so we can better understand why she proceeds to label the former Secretary of State “a gluttonous pig.”

As Somerby observes, the Post columnist’s evident concern over Clinton’s earnings has become obsessive: “In Sunday’s column, Marcus understated her track record in this area. By our count, this is at least the fifth column she has devoted, since last June, to Hillary Clinton’s ‘greed.’ ”

No doubt we can look forward to many, many more such essays — as she and her paper arraign Democrats over the same alleged misdemeanors for which they have historically neglected to criticize Republicans.

More here.

Photo: Michael Kovac via Flickr