Clinton wins final 2016 primary as debate turns to terror fight
15 June 2016, 10:58
Washington – Hillary Clinton captured the mostly
symbolic Democratic primary on Tuesday in the US capital, the final vote of the
2016 presidential primaries, as the race shifts to her showdown with Republican
rival Donald Trump.
Clinton won nearly 79% of the vote, compared with
just 21 percent for Bernie Sanders, with nearly all votes counted, according to
It marked a deflating finish for the Vermont
senator, who captivated liberals and independents with his grassroots campaign
that challenged Clinton more than just about everyone expected.
But as the most controversial primary season in
decades drew to a close, the attention of the candidates – and the nation – was
elsewhere: grappling with the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, the deadliest
terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.
Instead of hailing the end of a historic primary
season, Clinton and Trump were trading explosive verbal blows and laying out
dramatically different approaches for fighting terrorism in the wake of the
massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, on
Monday proposed stark changes to existing immigration policy, saying that if
elected he would "suspend" immigration from areas with a "proven
history of terrorism."
He also suggested American Muslims were complicit
in domestic attacks because they failed to "turn in the people who they
know are bad."
Clinton, a former secretary of state, maintained a
more statesmanlike demeanour, calling on Americans to "stand
together" to defeat terrorism.
But after Trump suggested in a TV interview that
Obama sympathised with terrorists, Clinton unleashed a blistering anti-Trump
broadside on Tuesday and called her rival's approach "dangerous" and
"Even in a time of divided politics, this is
way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president of the
United States," she told supporters in Pittsburgh.
"What Donald Trump is saying is
shameful," she added. "It is yet more evidence that he is
temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief."
Healing party divisions
Washington's primary was an afterthought, as
Clinton last week reached the magic number of delegates needed to lock up the
While she has called for uniting the party quickly
in order to focus on the looming Trump battle, Sanders has refused to concede
But he has steadily softened in recent days. And
Sanders and Clinton met to discuss the Democratic Party platform ahead of the
national convention next month in Philadelphia.
Sanders told reporters that he wanted to see
"the most progressive platform ever passed" at a convention, one
which "makes it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is in fact on the
side of working people."
He met with President Barack Obama last week, and
emerged from the White House declaring his intent to work together with Clinton
to defeat Trump in November. The move could go far to quell concerns of
divisions within the party.
Obama endorsed Clinton later that day.
Republicans in Washington held their party
convention in March, with Senator Marco Rubio emerging as the top vote-getter.
Tuesday's vote wraps up a spectacular primary
season that saw conservatives flock to a celebrity billionaire and political
novice in Trump, and liberals propel a self-described democratic socialist into
the national spotlight for a heavyweight bout against one of the nation's
best-known political figures.
Sanders managed to tap into a deep well of anger
among young voters disillusioned by the current political system and eager to
see action taken to reduce income inequality, one of Sanders's main goals.
Clinton ultimately prevailed, becoming the first
female presumptive presidential nominee of any major US political party.
Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee
chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz congratulated both candidates for having
"energised voters across the country."
"Now that our 2016 primaries are officially at
their end, Democrats are ready to unify and take on both Trump and the
Republican Party that he represents," Wasserman Schultz said in a
"At our convention in July, we're going to
nominate a qualified, capable candidate who will build on the hard-won progress
of the last seven years."
Sanders is scheduled to address supporters live via
webcast on Thursday.