Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Casa del Mexicano in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Despite Hillary Clinton claiming the Democratic nomination for president and heading for an apparent victory in the California primary, a defiant Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters in Santa Monica Tuesday night he will continue fighting “for every vote and every delegate we can get.”

It was a historic night for Clinton, who became the first woman to claim the presidential nomination of a major political party. She delivered a victory speech in Brooklyn, New York, just hours after polls closed in New Jersey and she was declared the winner.

Even earlier than that speech, however, Clinton wrote on her Twitter page, “To every little girl who dreams big: yes, you can be anything you want – – even president. Tonight is for you.”

“Tonight belongs to all of you,” Clinton told her supporters in Brooklyn, telling the crowd they are “standing under a glass ceiling right now.”

The declaration immediately raised questions about whether Sanders would suspend his campaign. President Barack Obama telephoned Sanders and congratulated him on his effort. Clinton also called and spoke to Sanders.

But the Vermont Senator remained determined as he took to the stage at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. With a packed house of supporters chanting his name, one was heard over the crowd yelling, “Don’t quit.”

And Sanders didn’t disappoint. After regaling the crowd with an overview of his campaign’s victories and its transformation from a “fringe” campaign to a political force, he brought the house down by proclaiming, “Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C.”

“We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C., and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” the site of the Democratic National Convention, Sanders said.

“We will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get,” he said.

Sanders has insisted throughout the campaign that he would take his presidential bid all the way to the convention, even if Clinton collects the delegates needed to become the presumptive nominee. He is pinning his hopes on “superdelegates,” who the senator says could throw their support behind him.

Those chances may be slim, but Sanders was hoping a strong showing in California would provide him with valuable momentum heading to Philadelphia. But as results continued to roll in, Clinton continued to maintain about 60 percent of the vote.

Sanders barnstormed across California in recent weeks, calling for a “political revolution,” higher wages and improved benefits for workers.

“A moral economy is not an economy where CEOs make tens of millions of dollars a year, ship our jobs abroad and take away health care from their workers,” he said at a recent rally.

While Sanders appears to be a popular choice among young voters, he is fighting an uphill battle against the Clinton juggernaut.

The Associated Press reported late Monday that based on a survey of superdelegates, Clinton had already earned the required number of delegates to claim the Democratic nomination. Clinton’s campaign reacted quickly on Twitter, thanking the AP for the report, but saying she is still focused on winning the remaining primaries to secure the nomination.

Sanders and his supporters reacted angrily to the report, saying nothing is final until superdelegates cast their votes at the convention.

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

Clinton also actively campaigned across California in recent weeks, hoping to make a strong showing, but she has been all but ignoring Sanders — already beginning her anticipated general election battle with Donald Trump.

“We also believe that California represents the future, and it’s a bright future, a positive future,” she said during a Monday rally in Lynwood. “I am tired of Donald Trump insulting Americans. I am tired of Donald Trump talking down America.

“I am confident and optimistic about our future, but we’re going to have to do some things — like elect the right person to be president of the United States,” she said.

Clinton wrapped up her California campaign blitz Monday night with a star-studded concert at the Greek Theatre featuring Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Andra Day, Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera.

Sanders did the same in Northern California, appearing at an evening concert at San Francisco’s Crissy Field with recording artist Dave Matthews among the performers and actors Danny Glover and Shailene Woodley among the speakers.

The California primary, which is often a political after-thought in presidential campaigns due to its late date, was envisioned this year as finally having an impact on the election. But that was when the Republican campaign was in full swing, with Trump continuing to do battle with Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

With both Cruz and Rubio dropping out, Trump became the presumptive nominee. Sanders’ late run in the primary has added interest in the California race on the Democratic side, with both candidates painting themselves as the best person to defeat Trump in November.

Trump has vowed to make a strong run at California during the November election, despite the state’s traditional Democratic leaning.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday night in New York, Trump — who has been under fire for his comments attacking a federal judge in San Diego as a “Mexican” who should not be handling a lawsuit over Trump University — tried to assure Republicans he will make the party proud.

“I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle, and I will never, ever let you down,” Trump said.

He also reached out to Sanders supporters, saying he would welcome them into his camp for the general election.

Clinton and Sanders Tuesday night both repudiated Trump.

“Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president,” Clinton said. “And he’s not just trying to build a wall between America and Mexico, he’s trying to wall off Americans from each other. When he says, ‘Let’s make America great again,’ that is code for ‘Let’s take America backwards.”‘

Sanders added, “The American people in my view will never support a candidate whose major theme is bigotry, who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims and women and African-Americans. We will not allow Donald Trump to become president of the United States.”

—City News Service

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