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Clinton still can't quite shake off Bernie Sanders in race for Democratic nomination

Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Kentucky while Bernie Sanders took a win in Oregon.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
Image: Kristina Barker/PA Wire

HILLARY CLINTON CLAIMED a narrow victory in Kentucky yesterday as she sought to put away Bernie Sanders, but her resilient rival for the Democratic presidential nomination bounced back to snatch a win in Oregon.

With the Kentucky race too close for most US networks to call a winner, Clinton declared victory shortly after Kentucky’s secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes announced on CNN that Clinton was the unofficial winner in her state.

“We just won Kentucky! Thanks to everyone who turned out,” Clinton tweeted.

With 99.8% of Blue Grass state precincts reporting, Clinton led Sanders by 46.8% to 46.3% – a margin of less than 2,000 votes.

Should the results hold, the win would blunt Sanders’s momentum and help Clinton move closer toward clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.

But the psychological win was short-lived. Half an hour after polls closed in Oregon, US networks projected Sanders the winner there, besting Clinton 53% to 47%.

“We just won Oregon, and we’re going to win California,” Sanders told thousands of supporters in Carson, California as he predicted victory in the nation’s largest state, which votes on 7 June.

Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, declared he would not be forced out of the race by narrow Clinton wins.

DEM 2016 Clinton Hillary Clinton arriving to speak at Transylvania University in Kentucky Source: Andrew Harnik/PA Wire

“It appears tonight that we’re going to end up with about half the delegates” in Kentucky, Sanders told the raucous rally.

“Let me be as clear as I can be… we are in ’til the last ballot is cast,” he said to a huge roar.

Clinton has a commanding lead in the all-important national delegate count and is marching toward vying for the presidency in the 8 November general election despite her string of recent primary losses.

Victories in Kentucky and Oregon would have definitively halted her slide and helped reverse the narrative that her campaign is showing significant weakness ahead of an almost certain showdown with Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.

Trump – the last man standing in the GOP race – was projected Oregon’s Republican winner, moving closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to officially claim the party’s mantle in 2016.

Closing the deal

Clinton defeated Barack Obama in Kentucky’s primary in 2008, and her husband Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry the Bluegrass State in a general election.

Republicans were gleeful over her inability to close out the Democratic nomination race against Sanders, who at the beginning of the campaign was given long odds against the better-funded, universally recognisable former first lady.

“While Republicans move toward unifying the party for the general election, Hillary Clinton remains bogged down in a nasty, protracted primary fight and will have to rely on a rigged system of superdelegates to get across the finish line,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, in a statement.

On Sunday, playing up her husband’s popularity, the former first lady appeared to indicate Bill would play a role in her administration if she were elected, promising to put him “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” She later said she would not give him a cabinet position.

As voting got underway, Trump fired off a series of nasty tweets at Clinton.

“Crooked Hillary can’t close the deal with Bernie Sanders. Will be another bad day for her!” Trump wrote.

GOP 2016 Trump Presumptive republican nominee Donald Trump Source: Mary Altaffer/PA Wire

The Clintons have struggled to contain the damage from comments Hillary made in March, when she said she vowed to put many coal miners “out of business” in the transition to cleaner energy.

Clinton, 68, barnstormed Kentucky on Sunday and Monday, shaking hands, taking selfies, offering hugs – even chatting with Trump supporters at a smoke-filled diner in the southwestern city of Paducah.

“I will not vote for you. I will never vote for you,” disabled veteran Dianna Dooley, 66, told her.

Clinton kept her composure, saying: “That’s OK. You vote for whoever you want.”

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Trump says Bill Clinton is ‘the worst abuser of women in the history of politics’

Also: Obama drops the mic and roasts Trump at his final White House Correspondents’ Dinner

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