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Clinton makes history -- but Sanders digs in.

It sounded like a farewell. Bernie Sanders thanked his volunteers and his thousands of supporters. He praised the movement that they built together.

The Democratic presidential hopeful was speaking to supporters in an airplane hangar in Santa Monica, California.

He had just lost three state primary elections and won two, with California's votes still being counted.

His rival Hillary Clinton had just secured the delegates that she needed to declare herself the nominee.

But in the end, Sanders' message was clear: He would go on.

"We take our fight for social and economic justice, racial justice and economic justice to Philadelphia," he declared in a voice even hoarser than usual, to deafening cheers.

Sanders said he would battle on to July's Democratic party nominating convention in Philadelphia, sending the longest, most expensive, most gruelling and nerve-wracking primary campaign in the history of the US Democratic Party on to another round.

But it doesn't count. The fight is over, and the thrill was gone.

Polls in California were still open as more than 4,000km away, Clinton stood before a podium and declared herself the winner of the five-month nominating race.

With her win in the primary in New Jersey, she cleared the final hurdle to claiming her party's nomination.

"Thanks to you, we've reached a milestone: The first time in history that a woman will be a major party's nominee," she told supporters in Brooklyn, New York.

Now, a new five-month fight to the finish begins, against billionaire businessman and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

On November 8, voters will have the final word.

If it goes her way, Clinton could become president - 100 years and a day after Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to the US Congress.

Clinton has pegged her campaign to a historic promise: To be the first woman in the White House, as Barack Obama was the first black president.

On Tuesday, she set herself squarely in the tradition of suffragettes and the women's rights movement of the 1960s.

She even quoted herself in a 1995 speech she gave in Beijing, where she said "women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights."

But in a direct duel with Trump, her focus on women may change.

While many women are put off by Trump's disparaging rhetoric and his macho attitude, most voters for whom women's rights are important already vote Democratic. In other words, Clinton doesn't have much to win with this subject.

Clinton's weaknesses present another hurdle. Her approval ratings are historically low - something she has in common with Trump.

Many people see Clinton as a part of an entrenched establishment, a political machine uncomfortably close to big money interests.

On top of that, she is battling for credibility amid a still-unresolved controversy over e-mails she sent from a private,

unsecured account she used as secretary of state.

The FBI is investigating and in the worst case for Clinton she could be charged.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Jun 9, 2016
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