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Saturday 3 December 2016

Clinton on brink of Democratic nomination as Trump strengthens position

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:21

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after winning the New York state primary election (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after winning the New York state primary election (AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Pittsburgh (AP)
Donald Trump was widely expected to win the New York Republican primary (AP)

Hillary Clinton emerged from New York's presidential primary closer to clinching the Democratic nomination and becoming the first woman to reach that milestone.

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Republican Donald Trump strengthened his own path to the general election with a commanding victory, but has little room for error in the states ahead.

The front-runners now hope to replicate their strong showings in New York in the cluster of north-eastern states next up on the primary calendar.

Following her win in New York, a jubilant Mrs Clinton made clear she was moving past her unexpectedly competitive primary battle with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and setting her sights on the general election.

"The race for the nomination is in the home stretch and victory is in sight," Mrs Clinton declared to cheering supporters.

She mentioned Mr Sanders only briefly as she appealed for support from his loyal backers, and saved her toughest talk for Mr Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz, deeming both "dangerous" for America.

Mr Trump is also eager to move past the Republican primaries.

With at least 89 of New York's 95 delegates in hand, he insisted it was "impossible" for any of his rivals to catch him and warned party leaders against trying to take the nomination away from him at the convention.

Ohio governor John Kasich won at least three New York delegates, while Mr Cruz was in danger of getting shut out.

Neither has a mathematical chance of clinching the nomination before the Republican convention in July, though they hope to block Mr Trump's path and overtake him at the Republican gathering.

Mrs Clinton's triumph padded her delegate lead, putting her 80% of the way towards clinching the Democratic nomination that eluded her eight years ago.

Exit polls suggested Democrats were ready to rally round whomever the party nominates. Nearly seven in 10 Sanders supporters in New York said they would definitely or probably vote for Mrs Clinton if she is the party's pick.

Mr Sanders energised young people and liberals in New York, as he has across the country, but it was not enough to pull off the upset victory he desperately needed to change the trajectory of the Democratic race.

The Vermont senator vowed to keep competing.

"We've got a shot to victory," Mr Sanders said.

However his senior adviser, Tad Devine, said later that the campaign planned to "sit back and assess where we are" after a string of contests next week.

Of the 247 Democratic delegates at stake in New York, Mrs Clinton picked up at least 135 while Mr Sanders gained at least 104.

Mr Trump now leads the Republican race with 845 delegates, ahead of Mr Cruz with 559 and Mr Kasich with 147. Securing the Republican nomination requires 1,237.

Among Democrats, Mrs Clinton now has 1,930 delegates to Mr Sanders' 1,189. Those totals include both pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses and superdelegates, the party insiders who can back the candidate of their choice regardless of how their state votes. It takes 2,383 to win the Democratic nomination.

Press Association

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