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Clinton declares historic victory, turns fire on Trump in White House race

Hillary Clinton celebrated her triumph as the first woman to lead a major party in a race for the White House, scoring big wins in California and New Jersey to cement her grip on the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state spoke to supporters at a raucous event in Brooklyn, New York, and placed her achievement in the context of the long history of the women's rights movement.

"Thanks to you, we have reached a milestone," Clinton said in a speech. "We all owe so much to who came before."

Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a primary night event on June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Hillary Clinton beat rival Bernie Sanders in the New Jersey presidential primary.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a primary night event on June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Hillary Clinton beat rival Bernie Sanders in the New Jersey presidential primary.

Clinton, 68, appealed to supporters of party rival Bernie Sanders, 74, to join her campaign. She said Democrats had been bolstered by his campaign for eradicating income inequality, which has commanded huge crowds and galvanized younger voters. Not yet ready to concede, Sanders vowed to fight on.

Clinton also harshly attacked Donald Trump, 69, her presumptive Republican rival in the Nov. 8 presidential election, for using divisive rhetoric that belittled women, Muslims and immigrants. She took specific aim at his condemnation of an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage.

"The stakes in this election are high and the choice is clear. Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief," Clinton said.

"When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can't do his job because of his Mexican heritage, or he mocks a reporter with disabilities, or calls women pigs, it goes against everything we stand for," she said.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday showed Clinton leading Trump by 10 percentage points nationally as they launch their general election battle, little changed from a week earlier.

Obama, Sanders to meet

Clinton edged Sanders out in a rough-and-tumble battle that stretched over four months and 50 states. She won support, especially among older voters, with a more pragmatic campaign focused on building on the policies of her fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama.

Obama called both Clinton and Sanders on Tuesday. The White House said he congratulated her on securing the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination and would meet Sanders on Thursday at Sanders' request.

CNN and NBC projected Clinton would win in California. With about two-thirds of the votes counted, Clinton led Sanders 56 percent to 43 percent, avoiding what would have been an embarrassing loss in America's most populous state. The California win came on the heels of a decisive win in New Jersey and narrower victories in New Mexico and South Dakota in Tuesday's nominating contests. Sanders won Montana and North Dakota.

A defeat in California would have reinforced doubts about Clinton's candidacy. Now, she can turn her attention to healing her fractured party and drawing in Sanders' passionate supporters.

Clinton's credentials for office have not been a serious issue, but a scandal stemming from her use of a private email account while at the State Department hangs over her head as she enters the general election campaign.