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Kerry says Clinton to make ‘terrific president’

US secretary of state says presumptive Democratic nominee is a ‘great candidate,’ and ‘as a father of two daughters, I’m proud’

Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the ceremonial groundbreaking for the future US Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the ceremonial groundbreaking for the future US Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

US Secretary of State and former presidential candidate John Kerry declared on Wednesday that Hillary Clinton “will make a terrific president.”

Speaking on a flight from Beijing to Abu Dhabi, Washington’s top diplomat told reporters: “As a father of two daughters, I’m proud.”

Kerry was Clinton’s successor at the State Department after she left to prepare her bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

And he has some idea what she is up against, having himself tried and failed to win the White House for the party in the 2004 campaign.

On Tuesday, Clinton all but guaranteed herself the nomination with victories in the Democrats’ last major primary races, including California.

Her opponent, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, has yet to concede but appears to have no practical way to beat her convention delegate count.

President Barack Obama has congratulated Hillary and now Kerry, who has been reluctant to intervene in the campaign, has lent his support.

“I have great respect for the election process which is why I didn’t say anything until people had voted last night,” he said.

“But that said, I believe that she is in tune with and in touch with major issues… I think she’s a great candidate. The American people will decide.”

Kerry said he was particularly pleased that Clinton is the first woman chosen as a major party nominee, dubbing this “a truly historic moment.”

Powered by a solid triumph in California, Clinton declared victory in her year-long battle for the heart of the Democratic party Tuesday, seizing her place in history and setting out on the difficult task of fusing a fractured party to confront Donald Trump.

Clinton cruised to easy victories in four of the six state contests on Tuesday. With each win she further solidified Sanders’ defeat and dashed his already slim chances of using the last night of state contests to refuel his flagging bid.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at an election-night rally in Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at an election-night rally in Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

The much-needed winning streak allowed Clinton to celebrate her long-sought “milestone” — the first woman poised to lead a major political party’s presidential ticket. Standing before a flag-waving crowd in Brooklyn, the former secretary of state soaked up the cheers and beamed.

“Barriers can come down. Justice and equality can win,” she said. “This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits on any of us. This is our moment to come together.”

Clinton had already secured the delegates needed for the nomination before Tuesday’s contests, according to an Associated Press tally. Still, Sanders had hoped to use a victory in California to persuade party insiders to switch their allegiances. Sanders picked up wins in Montana and North Dakota, but Clinton won substantially in California.

Sanders nonetheless vowed to continue to his campaign to the very last contest in the District of Columbia on next Tuesday.

“The struggle continues,” he said.

Sanders is under intense pressure from top Democrats hoping to coax him gently out of the race, win over his voters and turn to the task of challenging Trump.

The White House said Sanders and Obama would meet Thursday, at Sanders’ request, to discuss “how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm.”

Clinton and Sanders are also expected to connect in the coming days, Clinton’s spokesman said late Tuesday. The candidates’ campaign managers spoke earlier in the day, signaling that conversations were underway about the road ahead.

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