Hillary Clinton, for the first time since launching her campaign, declared
herself the inevitable nominee of the Democratic party, having held off a surprisingly strong challenge from her progressive rival, Bernie Sanders. While Clinton has maintained a comfortable lead in both delegates and votes, her opponent has refused to bow out of the primary race even as his path to the nomination narrowed. Today, Clinton said her pledged delegate lead is “insurmountable” and concluded that Sanders is no longer a barrier on her path to the nomination.
She cited his proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering American borders, his comments about diminishing the United States’ involvement in NATO and his remarks that he would negotiate directly with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, as evidence of how “unmoored” Mr. Trump is on foreign policy.
This month, when MSNBC asked a similar question, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Trump had “given no indication that he understood the gravity of the responsibilities that go with being commander in chief.” But she stopped short of emphatically declaring that he was unqualified.
Mrs. Clinton’s statements come as she encounters a lingering threat for the Democratic nomination from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose supporters have become increasingly antagonistic toward her candidacy. Despite recent primary wins by Mr. Sanders, his path to the party’s nomination appears mathematically impossible, a fact Mrs. Clinton sought to make abundantly clear.
“I will be the nominee of our party, Chris,” she told Mr. Cuomo. “There is no way I won’t be.”
On Thursday afternoon, Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said in a statement that his candidate’s recent victories in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon showed that voters there “respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton.” He added, “We expect voters in the remaining eight contests also will disagree,” and said that some polls showing Mr. Sanders faring better than Mrs. Clinton against Mr. Trump made it “clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.”
Throughout the interview, Mrs. Clinton appeared ready to put the primaries behind her and move on to Mr. Trump. Asked if she would consider naming Mr. Sanders her vice-presidential nominee, in an effort to unify the party and bring in his liberal and young supporters, she demurred.