"Tonight belongs to all of you”: Hillary Clinton claims Democratic nomination during historic victory speech

"Tonight's victory is not about one person," Clinton said on Tuesday, "it belongs to generations of women and men"

Published June 8, 2016 3:03AM (EDT)

Hillary Clinton before her victory speech in New York on Tuesday night (Reuters)
Hillary Clinton before her victory speech in New York on Tuesday night (Reuters)

Eight years, to the day, after she delivered a speech conceding the 2008 Democratic primary to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton declared that she has enough delegates to become the Democratic Party nominee in 2016.

Clinton was declared the winner of the Democratic primary in New Jersey on Tuesday, officially earning a majority of pledged delegates to become the presumptive presidential nominee -- and the first female presidential nominee of any major political party in U.S. history.

The Associated Press reported late Monday that Clinton already earned enough pledged and superdelegates to be the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee.

Clinton delivered an explosive speech to supporters near her Brooklyn headquarters before polls in California closed. Montana, New Mexico and the Dakotas also held Democratic contests on Tuesday.

“Tonight caps an amazing journey — a long, long journey,” Clinton said. “We all owe so much to those who came before, and tonight belongs to all of you.”

“Thanks to you we have reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be our party’s nominee,” she told thousands of supporters.

"It may be hard to see tonight, but we are all standing under a glass ceiling right now," she joked, referencing the proverbial glass ceiling that she said her supporters put 16 million cracks in eight years before. 

"On the very day Mom was being born in Chicago," she said, "Congress was passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution—giving women the right to vote."

"Tonight's victory is not about one person, it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible," Clinton said. "We all owe so much to those who came before and tonight belongs to all of you."

While Clinton's wins in New Jersey and New Mexico marked a historic American moment, Clinton's road to victory came with a string of embarrassing losses towards the end.

"I want to congratulate Senator Sanders for the campaign he has run," Clinton said of her primary challenger, in a tone that appeared aimed at his supporters who are reluctant to reconcile with her campaign. "Let there be no mistake, Sen. Sanders, his campaign and the vigorous debate that we've had about how to raise income, reduce inequality, increase upward mobility, have been very good for the Democratic party and for America," she said.

Clinton's victory speech reserved a significant portion to attacking her presumptive Republican rival, Donal Trump.

"Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief," she forcefully said moments into her speech.

"Make America Great Again' is code for take America backwards," Clinton said directly, telling supporters that when Trump “calls women pigs, it goes against everything we stand for."

"He's trying to wall off Americans from one another," she said, mocking his major policy proposal of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Ahead of Clinton's speech, her campaign aired a video highlighting historic female activists and Clinton's historic accomplishment.

"If America is going to lead we need to learn from the women of the world who have blazed new paths," Clinton said in the video.



By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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