Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday night, becoming the first woman to find her name at the top of the ballot in U.S. history.
The Associated Press unexpectedly called her victory Monday night, saying she had reached the necessary number of delegates to secure the nomination, but a decisive win hinged on the results of Tuesday primaries in New Jersey (where she won 63.3 percent of the vote and 126 delegates, according to The New York Times), California (56 percent of the vote and 475 delegates), New Mexico (51.5 percent of the vote and 34 delegates), Montana (44.6 percent of the vote and 21 delegates), North Dakota (25.6 percent of the vote and 23 delegates), and South Dakota (51 percent of the vote and 20 delegates).
Clinton acknowledged the significance of the moment in a tweet shortly after her victory was called in New Jersey, granting the former secretary of state a boost in delegates and an official nomination.
To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want—even president. Tonight is for you. -H pic.twitter.com/jq7fKlfwGV— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 8, 2016
As she embarks on the general election campaign, gender issues have already become central to the race, with Republican nominee Donald Trump accusing her of playing "the woman card." Clinton has devoted her career to women's issues as a staunch advocate for equal pay, paid maternity leave, and reproductive rights, including the support of Planned Parenthood. Her victory comes eight years to the day after she gave a speech conceding to U.S. President Barack Obama but celebrating the progress made for women.
"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time," she said in 2008.
Her path to the nomination was hard fought, with an increasingly bitter campaign against opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermont Senator won North Dakota and is hoping for an upset in the California primary. He has vowed not to suspend his campaign until the Democratic convention in July and will spend the coming weeks attempting to flip superdelegates, who can change their votes at any time. The New York Times reported Tuesday night he plans to lay off half of his staff as he continues to fight Clinton.
Clinton has now begun to shift her focus to uniting the party after a widely divided race in which Sanders mobilized a fervent, young supporter base. Clinton aide Robby Mooke said Tuesday Sanders deserves a say in the party platform.
"It is really important that this entire party, his campaign and the Clinton campaign come together and unify in common purpose to keep the White House in Democratic hands," Mooke said.
Speaking at a rally at her Brooklyn headquarters, Clinton declared victory, thanked her supporters, and appealed to Sanders supporters to unite and defeat Trump, saying the Republican's temperament makes him "unfit" for a presidency.
"The vigorous debate that we've had about how to raise incomes, reduce inequality, increase upward mobility have been very good for the democratic part and for America," she said. "As we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let's look at what we all have in common."
So proud of you, Mom & grateful little girls can grow up knowing they can run for president https://t.co/jgM7RbUAKQ— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 8, 2016
She again addressed the historic nature of the win, invoking historical women's rights milestones and noting that when her mother was born in 1919, women did not yet have the right to vote.
“There are still ceilings to break for women men an all of us, but don’t let anybody tell you great things can’t happen in America,” she said. “This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits for any of us … and we are stronger together.”
The Clinton campaign also released a video called "History Made" on Tuesday, which discusses the significance of a female candidate and features clips from various speeches, including some of Clinton's own, related to women's rights.
Obama spoke to both Clinton and Sanders on Tuesday night, according to a White House statement, and is expected to meet Sanders on Thursday.
JUST IN from the White House: Obama spoke to both Clinton and Sanders tonight. Bernie meeting w him Thurs. pic.twitter.com/mcHibd55LD— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) June 8, 2016
Despite Clinton's big victories, Bernie Sanders gave a late-night speech on Tuesday beginning at around 10:45 PM Pacific that pledged to "continue the fight" through the Democratic convention.
"We are going to fight hard to win the primary," he said. "And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice to Philadelphia.”
Sanders pledged to "continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get," while attacking Trump, Wall Street, corporate America, the billionaire class, and "corporate media," the last of which was met by intense boos and hisses from the packed and enthusiastic crowd.
The speech closed with Sanders restating his determination to stay the course.
"“Our fight is to transform this country," he said. "To understand that we are in this together; to understand that all of what we believe is what the majority of the American people believe; and to understand that the struggle continues.”