Hillary Clinton on Wednesday eked out a narrow win in the Kentucky Democratic primary over her stubborn foe Bernie Sanders who kept his White House hopes alive with a crucial victory in Oregon even as she set her sights on an epic clash with Republican Donald Trump in the November polls.
Clinton, 68, squeezed out a cliffhanger victory over Sanders in Kentucky, where the Secretary of State’s office said she led by 1,923 votes with all precincts reporting. The win keeps the former secretary of state on track to win the party’s nomination for the presidential polls but also highlights deep divisions in the party.
Clinton this time won Kentucky by half a percentage point in a state she won by 35 percentage points over Barack Obama in their 2008 primary clash and where her family has deep political roots going back decades.
Sanders easily won the Oregon primary, and declared at a raucous rally in California that despite pressure from the Clinton campaign to abandon his quest for the nomination, he would stay in the race “until the last ballot is cast.”
The Vermont senator bagged 53 per cent of votes to Hillary’s 47 per cent.
After his morale-boosting win in Oregon, Sanders told thousands of his supporters in California that he is not giving up even though he has a steep hill to climb.
However, despite the series of defeats in the Democratic primaries over the past few weeks, Clinton still appears to be on her way to clinch the nomination of the Democratic party for the November 8 general elections.
This is mainly because she is way ahead of Sanders in the delegate count and requires less than 100 delegates to reach the magical figure of 2,383 delegates to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
According to US media estimates, with 55 delegates up for grabs in Kentucky, Clinton and Sanders both won 27 delegates with one remaining to be decided.
In Oregon with 61 delegates to be taken, Sanders won 28 delegates and Clinton took 24 with 9 remaining to be accounted for.
Sanders who has 1,526 delegates as against Clinton’s 2,289 delegates, needs to win nearly 70 per cent of the rest of the delegates at stake in the remaining nine primaries.
“We just won Kentucky! Thanks to everyone who turned out. We’re always stronger united,” Clinton tweeted.
Such a narrow win may have derailed some of the momentum of the Clinton Campaign but she has set her sights on her epic clash with 69-year-old Trump in the presidential polls.
In a tweet and an e-mail, she urged her supporters to help raise funds to defeat Trump in the polls.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Trump garnered nearly two-thirds of the total votes polled in Oregon, further consolidating his position as the presumptive presidential nominee.
With a win in Oregon, Trump has 1,171 delegates in his kitty and needs just 66 delegates to reach the 1,237 figure to officially clinch the nomination.
This is now considered a mere formality given that he is the only one left in the race. Nearly 350 delegates are still to be awarded from the remaining primaries.
“I look so forward to debating Crooked Hillary Clinton! Democrat Primaries are rigged, e-mail investigation is rigged -- so time to get it on!” Trump said in a tweet soon after being declared the winner of the Oregon primary.
“Thank You Oregon. Congratulations to the movement, we have just won the great state of Oregon. The vote percentage is even higher than anticipated! Thank you,” Trump said in another tweet to his 8.26 million followers.
Despite Clinton’s status as the almost certain Democratic nominee, tens of thousands of Democratic voters still prefer Sanders, CNN reported.
“It’s a scenario that will do little to ease questions about enthusiasm for her candidacy, message to blue collar workers and personal campaigning skills that could resurface in a general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump,” it said.
Meanwhile, Sanders told his supporters that he is not giving up though he was facing a daunting task.
“No one can predict the future, but I think we have a real shot to win primaries in a number of the states that will be coming up. And don’t tell Secretary Clinton because she might get nervous,” he said.
“I think we’re going to win here in California,” Sanders said. As many as 475 delegates are at stake in California. A massive win here might help Sanders to narrow the gap.
Sanders said he would not give up until the last vote is count.
“We have the possibility, it will be a steep climb, I recognise that, but we have the possibility of going to Philadelphia with a majority of pledged delegates,” he said.
“Now some people say we’ve got a steep hill to climb and that’s absolutely true. But together we’ve been climbing that steep hill from day one in this campaign and we’ll continue to fight for every last vote until June 14, and then we’ll take our fight into the convention,” Sanders said.
The next round of eight primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Dakota, Puerto Rico and VirginIsland are scheduled for June 7.
Washington, DC would host the last primary on June 14.