Nancy Pelosi endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ahead of voting in the California primary, the first female former House speaker backing the first female presidential nominee of a major party.
"It's fabulous that we would have a woman president, and I believe she will walk into that Oval Office one of the best prepared people to do so in our country's history," Pelosi said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"However, it's because she is the best, not because she's a woman. However, having said that -- pretty exciting," said Pelosi, now House minority leader.
Hillary Clinton has won California’s Democratic primary, sending her into the general election with a convincing victory in the state with more delegates up for grabs than any other.
Her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, campaigned hard here as he sought a win that would persuade super delegates that he was the candidate with the best chance to beat Donald Trump in the general election. Sanders has vowed to stay in the race to try to wrest the nomination from Clinton at the party convention next month.
A defiant Bernie Sanders said Tuesday night that he will take his campaign to next week’s presidential primary in Washington, D.C., and then on to the Democratic National Convention.
"Next Tuesday we continue the fight," Sanders told a large crowd of cheering supporters gathered in Santa Monica. "We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C., and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia."
Sanders spoke hours after Hillary Clinton claimed the Democratic nomination after victories in New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota gave her the delegates she needs to secure the nomination on the first ballot at next month’s convention.
Hillary Clinton supporters gathered Tuesday night in a downtown Los Angeles lounge to toast their candidate winning the Democratic nomination and watch the returns in the California primary.
“I was watching her speech and it was flashing, ‘First woman ever to be the Democratic presidential nominee’ – it’s pretty incredible,” said former City Controller Wendy Greuel, a longtime Clinton supporter who worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration. “California is looking good in these early numbers. I know it will narrow a little bit, but I think ultimately she’s going to pull it out in California.”
Clinton became the presumptive Democratic nominee before the polls closed in California. But the state is of personal and political importance to the Clintons, Greuel noted.
The orderly wind-down of the Democratic primary appears to be underway.
President Obama spoke Tuesday night with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and congratulated Clinton "for securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic nomination for president," according to a statement released by the White House just before midnight Eastern time.
"Her historic campaign inspired millions and is an extension of her lifelong fight for middle-class families and children," the statement added.