7 June 2016

Clinton has Trump in her sights after historic victory


Today marks eight years exactly since Hillary Clinton conceded to Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries. And she has just become the first female nominee for President of the United States.

With California and five other states voting today, the Associated Press declared last night that Clinton has made it over the 2,383 delegate line, thanks to victories in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The announcement came a day earlier than expected, catching the Clinton team slightly off-guard. Nonetheless, NBC and ABC have now confirmed the numbers: Clinton has won enough delegates to make her the first woman in history to lead the Democratic Party in a presidential race.

Bernie Sanders, of course, remains unconvinced. The Senator from Vermont attempted a convoluted routine of mental gymnastics to deny conceding victory to Clinton. His communications director Michael Briggs put out a statement saying:

“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer.

Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then.”

This is a deliberate misunderstanding of the primary process, which counts both pledged and superdelegates. It also overlooks the fact that Clinton leads Sanders by 291 pledged delegates, and three million votes, making her the clear winner using any metric. Sanders and his team seem determined to discount the superdelegates when they are supporting Clinton, but count them if they show any signs of switching allegiances – a tactic which is both mendacious and petty. It is desperation alone that is spurring Sanders’ threats to take the fight to the convention floor and cause a riot if necessary, and there are signs that patience is running out.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has turned her sights on Donald Trump. The speech she gave in San Diego last Thursday slamming Trump’s foreign policy stances, where she called his ideas “a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies”, has gone viral. According to an aide, it has been viewed nearly four million times.

Both Democrats and Republicans have been struggling for a year to land blows on Trump for his volatile and outrageous remarks, with little success. The business tycoon and daytime TV celebrity has proved too fickle to hold down, and too adept at manipulating the media to give maximum airtime to his outsized personality. In San Diego last week, Clinton finally got serious with Trump, tearing him apart for believing “we can treat the US economy like one of his casinos” and claiming he knows more about IS than the generals do. The overwhelming wave of support she has received across California in the last week shows that her comments hit home.

In stark contrast, on Sunday Trump embroiled himself in yet another controversy, telling CBS “Face the Nation” that the Mexican heritage of the judge who is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit prevents him from acting fairly. (The lawsuit concerns allegations of fraudulent sales practices which scammed students out of tens of thousands of dollars for worthless real-estate ‘classes’.) When asked whether a Muslim judge would also be unfair, Trump replied “It’s possible”. Trump said it was “common sense” that a judge’s heritage would affect his bias, revealing a clear disrespect for the impartiality of the judiciary, the tradition of American multiculturalism, and the US constitution itself which safeguards religious freedom.

The difference between the two presumptive presidential nominees could not be clearer. Voters may not like Hillary Clinton – they may find her cold and uninspiring, disagree with her policies on trade and spending, or worry about allegations against her husband. But there is no denying that, compared to a candidate who is prepared to blow up the US for the sake of his own ego, she is the only sane choice.

Rachel Cunliffe is Deputy Editor of CapX.