Hilary Clinton triumphs in New York voting

She danced the merengue in Washington Heights. She slammed down a mean game of dominoes in East Harlem.

And in the East Village the day before the New York primary, Hillary Clintonbroke her long-held rule of not eating in front of the news media by digging into an ice cream concoction named the Victory.

Mrs. Clinton seemed, for the first time in a rocky and unpredictable Democratic race, relaxed. “That’s what’s so great about being back here now for this primary,” she said at Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, where the owner had named the dessert in her honor. “I get to go to a lot of the places that I love. I get to meet new people and see people I’ve known for a long time.”

Mrs. Clinton has had dramatic highs and crushing lows in her political career and in this campaign. But since she first ran for office 16 years ago, New York has always been the state that loved her back, and on Tuesday it delivered one of her biggest boosts yet toward becoming the first woman to capture the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

“Today, today, you proved once again, there’s no place like home,” she told a jubilant crowd of more than 2,500 at the Sheraton New York hotel in Midtown after taking the stage to the song “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys and Jay Z.

“In this campaign, we’ve won in every region of the country, from the North to the South to the East to the West,” Mrs. Clinton added. “But this one is personal.”

Mrs. Clinton getting bubble tea with Senator Chuck Schumer at Kung Fu Tea in Flushing, Queens, on Monday. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
Mrs. Clinton getting bubble tea with Senator Chuck Schumer at Kung Fu Tea in Flushing, Queens, on Monday. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Her New York triumph was an echo of her victory in 2008, when she defeated Barack Obama by 17 points. But this year the New York primary came later and, after a string of victories by Senator Bernie Sanders in smaller states, had far more bearing on the direction of the race. With two-thirds of the delegates now pledged, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Sanders by more than 200.

On Monday, when asked whether a significant win in New York would mean that she had effectively locked up the nomination, Mrs. Clinton, over a bubble tea in Flushing, Queens, said cautiously, “You know, I never count any chickens before they hatch.”

But a few hours later, surrounded by an adoring downtown crowd, she was counting her chickens. “I’m hoping to do really well,” Mrs. Clinton said at an L.G.B.T. community center in Greenwich Village. “I’m hoping to wrap up the Democratic nomination.”

The crowd erupted in chants of “Hillary! Hillary!”

Realizing that she may have slipped and assumed the air of inevitability that has let Mr. Sanders play the part of Goliath-slayer, Mrs. Clinton quieted the raucous supporters. “But! But. But, I’m not taking anything for granted,” she added, before listing a bevy of forthcoming primaries she said she would work hard to win.

But none of the remaining states hold the psychological weight of New York, where in 1999 Mrs. Clinton first dipped her toe into making the transition from presidential spouse to political force.

Overcoming the inconvenient facts that she was born in a Chicago suburb and spent most of her adult life in Little Rock, Ark., and Washington, Mrs. Clinton dived into retail politics and “listening tours” with voters, working to prove that she was not a carpetbagger. The Clintons vacationed upstate in Skaneateles in 1999, and that fall they bought a $1.7 million five-bedroom Dutch colonial in Chappaqua.

“She made New York her home and has been a real workhorse here,” said Peter Romanoff, 49, an advertising executive in Briarcliff Manor who voted for Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday.

In the two weeks since her April 5 loss in Wisconsin, Mrs. Clinton ran a classic street-level campaign to win New York. As Mr. Sanders stuck largely to a strategy of holding large rallies, drawing tens of thousands to Washington Square Park and Prospect Park, Mrs. Clinton echoed her first Senate campaign and kept many of her appearances targeted and intimate.

And for a candidate sometimes criticized as aloof and wooden, Mrs. Clinton, in New York, seemed carefree, or as carefree as a cautious presidential candidate can be.

On Friday, as Mr. Sanders visited Vatican City, Mrs. Clinton toured an apartment in the Edward Corsi Houses, an affordable-housing complex for older adults in East Harlem.

She wiggled her shoulders and threw up her arms when she bested a trio of men playing dominoes at the complex’s recreation center. “You play good! Oh, my God,” one of the men exclaimed. “I’m taking dominoes to the White House!” a swaggering Mrs. Clinton replied.

Mrs. Clinton has performed especially strongly with African-American voters, a demographic that was largely missing from the recent contests that Mr. Sanders won but is a force in New York.

Mrs. Clinton spoke at three black churches in Brooklyn one Sunday, beginning her remarks with the same refrain: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

She squeezed in among Bangladeshi and Pakistani voters at the Jackson Diner in Queens, met with Mexican carwash employees who had recently gone on strike, and eyed a heaping slice of strawberry cheesecake at Junior’s in Brooklyn. “I learned early on not to eat in front of all of you,” she told reporters. “I’m sitting here just pining. Pining for a bite!”

By Monday, Mrs. Clinton, sensing that her lead in the polls had solidified, exuded the confidence to risk an unflattering food photo, and ate.

“I was going to take it to go, but it was, like, in front of me and I had to start eating it,” she said as she dug into the Victory sundae.

Aides say New York, and Mrs. Clinton’s record, relationship and ease with voters here, can serve as a blueprint for what they hope to show the rest of the country in subsequent primaries and the general election. The campaign ran a dozen ads in New York, more than in any state since New Hampshire. Many of them celebrated the city’s diversity and took aim at the leading Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump, for his comments about immigrants, Muslims and women.

There have been mishaps in Mrs. Clinton’s coming-home tour. It took five swipes of a MetroCard before she got through a turnstile to get the No. 4 train in the Bronx, and she took part in a racially tinged skit with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

But after Mrs. Clinton voted on Tuesday at Douglas G. Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, where she first saw her name on the ballot in 2000, the scattered rain that had been falling just minutes before had stopped. The clouds had parted.

“I love New York,” Mrs. Clinton said, squinting in the bright primary-day sun.

[su_note note_color=”#fefccb”]The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Libyan News’s editorial policy.[/su_note]

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