Final countdown: Hillary garners Golden and Garden States

By daybreak on the East Coast it emerged that Hillary Clinton had won California, the biggest of delegate lodes, after three weeks of hard campaigning there by her rival Bernie Sanders.

With 94 percent of the vote reported, she had 56 percent. In New Jersey, her victory was tallied more quickly and more convincingly with Clinton mustering a firm 63 percent of votes and capturing 73 pledged delegates to 47 for Sanders.

Sanders is due to meet Thursday at the White House with President Barack Obama. Obama said through a spokesman that Clinton's "historic" campaign "inspired millions" but praised "extraordinary work Sanders has done to engage millions of Democratic voters." Their conversation is due to focus on where it all goes from here.

'Stoking fears and rubbing salt...'

Clinton finally proclaimed her victory and a place in history as the first female presumptive nominee of a major party for president. "Thank you, we reached a milestone," she told a boisterous crowd in Brooklyn.

Then she scanned the urgent business ahead: trying to get Sanders and backers on board and defeating Donald Trump. “He wants to win by stoking fear and rubbing salt in wounds ... and reminding us daily just how great he is,” said Clinton of Trump. Her Republican opponent, she said, is “trying to wall off Americans from each other,” but “bridges are better than walls.”

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While Clinton handily won New Jersey, she narrowly took New Mexico, and led in Montana and South Dakota, while Sanders won the North Dakota caucus.

For more on Clinton's night, read the story by Newsday's Laura Figueroa.

Sanders talked again Tuesday of taking the fight all the way to the Philadelphia convention, but his meeting with Obama could have some impact.

Click here for up-to-date primary results and here for the latest delegate counts.

The take-away: Clinches and cinches

Even though Clinton was declared by The Associated Press to have reached a delegate majority on Monday, it’s not a clinching of a nomination in the same way a baseball team clinches a playoff spot, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

In theory, it ain’t over until the delegates and the superdelegates supporting Clinton vote at next month’s convention in Philadelphia.

Trump’s walk on the mild side

He read calmly from a TelePrompTer. He stuck, for the most part, to the script, which contained sharper new attack lines about his opponent — “The Clintons have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form” — as well as his signature pledge to “Make America great again.”

After days of making Republican leaders miserable with his rants about a judge in a Trump University lawsuit, he gave them a glimpse of what they have been asking for — self-control. Newsday’s Emily Ngo covered the speech to supporters in the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Course in Westchester County.

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“I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle and I will never, ever let you down. ... I will make you proud of our party and the movement,” said Trump. He also put out a welcome mat for Sanders’ supporters as he added to his list of primary wins since his final GOP opponents quit.

He left without taking questions, such as this one: Is this a new Trump who will stay around for a while or was that a one-night stand?

Trump’s gag order on Trump

Trump put out a statement Tuesday afternoon that “I do not intend to comment ... any further” on a lawsuit against Trump University — after complaining loudly and often that the “Mexican judge” presiding in the case was a “hater of Donald Trump.”

His denunciations of Judge Gonzalo Curiel “were misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” Trump said. There was no retraction and no apology.

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The candidate had repeatedly coupled his stand on illegal immigration and the Indiana-born judge’s ancestry to conclude that the judge was treating him unfairly.

As recently as Tuesday morning, to the escalating distress of Republican leaders, Trump surrogates carried out his orders to step up counterattacks in the controversy.

Soon after, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment” (video here), and pro-Trump commentator Jeffrey Lord on CNN said Ryan “is now supporting identity politics. Which is racist” (video here).

Sticking by, stuck with

Ryan added that Trump was still better than Clinton, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wanted Trump to “quit the outrageous comments” and “talk about the issues that the American people are concerned about.” Republicans are shaken by his behavior.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said that with Trump, “We’ve got what we’ve got. That’s not somebody who can win the White House.” Flake also mused, “Where there’s no talk of a convention challenge or anything else, this might spur it.”

Soon after, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) called on Republicans to withdraw their endorsements of Trump, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) did just that, calling the attack on the judge “un-American” and saying the presumptive nominee “does not have the temperament” to be president.

But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, ending his silence, said Trump “is not a racist.”

Zeldin: You could call Obama racist

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), on CNN, said while the comments were “a regrettable mistake,” Trump isn’t a racist — and that it could also be argued that President Barack Obama “is a racist” because of his policies and rhetoric.

He later issued a statement apologizing, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune. “To anyone who interpreted my comments as calling the President a racist. I am not calling the President a racist.”

What else is happening:

  • Some Trump supporters don’t believe all his promises, such as building a wall on the Mexican border, but they applaud the symbolism behind them, a Washington Post story says...
  • A pro-Clinton super PAC is spending $4 million to show an ad excoriating Trump for mocking a New York Times reporter’s physical disability. The ad features the Ohio parents of a little girl with spina bifida (video here) ...
  • Eleven states will form the key battleground in the general election, says Politico -- and one of them is not New York, where Trump and Clinton are based...
  • National Review writer David French said that while he was considering a third-party candidacy, his family members received intimidating calls from Trump supporters ...
  • A BuzzFeed story asserts Trump tried to form a business relationship with the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi two years before the dictator was toppled ...
  • A Minnesota delegate for Sanders is off the slate after news surfaced of his arrest after he was accused of possessing and dealing drugs ...
  • Trump got the facts wrong -- again -- this time regarding his allegations about Obamacare and its deadlines...
  • Establishment Republicans should “be happy they’re only getting spanked and not executed” by angry voters for failing to thwart President Barack Obama’s policies, said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Sean Hannity’s radio show ...
  • Clinton expects a bounce in polls from the events of recent days...
  • Looks like Trump's endorsement was more like a kiss of death for Renee Ellmers, a North Carolina Republican who lost her primary Tuesday.