California was the icing on the cake for the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees on Tuesday night, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump claimed victories in the Golden State – setting up a general election battle between the former secretary of state and real estate mogul.
Clinton’s win in California, where she secured 56 percent of the vote to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 43.1 percent, added to a historic night in American politics as Clinton became the first woman to earn the nomination of a major political party.
"This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits on any of us," Clinton said during an emotional rally in Brooklyn, eight years to the day after she ended her first failed White House run. As she took the stage to raucous cheers, she paused to relish the moment, flinging her arms wide and beaming broadly.
Clinton faces a two-front challenge in the coming days. She must appeal to the enthusiastic supporters of her rival Bernie Sanders — who insists he still has a narrow path to the nomination — and sharpen her contrasts with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
She sought to make progress on both, using her own loss in 2008 to connect with Sanders' backers.
"It never feels good to put our heart into a cause or a candidate you believe in and come up short," she said. "I know that feeling well. But as we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let's remember all that unites us."
She was biting and sarcastic as she took on Trump, accusing him of wanting to win "by stoking fear and rubbing salt in wounds — and reminding us daily just how great he is."
Clinton will also soon have help on the campaign trail from President Obama. Her 2008 foe is to endorse her as early as this week, a move meant to signal to Sanders and his supporters that it's time to unify behind her.
While Trump’s win in California - the biggest prize in his triumphant run to become the GOP nominee -has the boisterous businessman going on to his party’s national convention in Cleveland this July with more than enough delegates to become the official nominee, but his candidacy remains a source of controversy, with many in the GOP struggling to rally behind the brash billionaire.
"This election isn't about Republican or Democrat, it's about who runs this country: the special interests or the people," he said. Trump promised a major speech next week on Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that comments Trump made accusing a district court judge of passing a racially-motivated judgment against him were the "textbook definition of a racist comment," and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois withdrew his support from the presumptive nominee.
Trump released a statement saying he does "not feel one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial." But he still questioned whether he was receiving fair treatment in the case involving the now-defunct Trump University.