NEW YORK—Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Democratic presidential primary may have been inevitable, but damned if she was going to let it be an afterthought.
Somehow, the former first lady, New York senator, and secretary of state had found herself overshadowed repeatedly in a race that, from the beginning, was hers to lose. The refuse-to-quit challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders and the can’t-turn-away craziness of Donald Trump dominated the campaign, even as Clinton marched toward her historic milestone. On Monday night, the Associated Press declared the Democratic campaign over and anointed Clinton, a day earlier than expected, as the first woman ever to win the presidential nomination of a major party in the U.S.
After a long career that led into a long campaign, Tuesday night finally belonged to Clinton.
Her campaign’s party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard came eight years to the day after she conceded the 2008 nomination to Barack Obama, and it seemed nearly that long in the making. Four giant American flags lined the walls, and staffers handed smaller flags to just about every one of the 4,000 supporters who packed into the warehouse. In emails to reporters, the campaign suggested Clinton would be speaking about the historic nature of her victory, sharing a slick three-minute video filled with the voices of women leaders from the last century. The crowd, fired-up from the start, needed no reminder. They began cheering hours before Clinton arrived on stage, as if expecting a grand pronouncement at any moment. In the minutes before the polls closed at 8 p.m. in New Jersey, the crowd began counting down the seconds like it was New Years Eve. When MSNBC said the race there was “too early to call,” the air deflated. It was the only letdown of the night.