Early Wednesday, the news came in that Hillary Clinton’s status as likely nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2016 White House had changed to presumptive nominee.
The win in New Jersey gave her the prerequisite 2,383 delegates and effectively clinched the nomination for her.
The former first lady is again on her way to the house that she shared with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, in the 1990s.
Her tweets on the night of the win reveal much. She spoke directly to little girls, telling them that they could be anything they want, even president.
She thanked her “people”, saying that history has been made. She spoke to America, and said that there was no ceiling too high to break.
She was referring, of course, to the glass ceiling speech of 2008, a speech many thought was beautiful and poignant all at the same time. Beautiful because it spoke to the people.
Poignant because as far as speeches go, it was beautiful too late to matter to her campaign.
The nomination at the July 25 Democratic National Convention is now merely a formality. Only Richard Nixon ever came back from a defeat to win the presidency. But for Hillary, even the road to this point has not been easy.
I see her failed 2008 campaign as a necessary part of the path to the White House.
The Hillary we knew was impossibly perfect. So when she started the 2008 campaign, it was against the backdrop of her Midas touch.
This was a candidate that could do no wrong.
Her first blunder then was to skip Iowa. After all, Iowa would only contribute 57 delegates, and was not really a strong state.
This year, Hillary did not skip any state, treating each and every state with equal dignity and worth.
The Hillary of 2008 spoke to the people as if she was lecturing them. This year, she made her audience a part of her ‘team’, often using ‘we’ and ‘us’. Gone was the slightly condescending Hillary of 2008.
Her missteps cost her much. But it also opened an opportunity for her, the opportunity to learn and to rectify.
When she became secretary of state in the Obama administration, she went everywhere, met everyone. She visited 112 countries and became the most widely travelled secretary of state. She spoke to every world leader she could by phone.
It was almost as if she was on another campaign trail, this time to promote America’s smart power to ensure their global hegemony. It gave her a chance to polish her connectivity and fine-tune her listening skills.
These were the skills that she brought with her to the 2016 campaign.
Obama was not really joking when he said last year that he had a friend who used to make millions of dollars a year, but “was now living out of a van in Iowa”.
Hillary started her campaign early, launching the website that would eventually account for half her contributions.
Of course, along the way, there were still stumbles. Who can forget the fiasco of a speech given by Madeleine Albright? Described as “unhelpfully helpful”, Albright’s fiery charge that there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” just about crossed the line in sexist remarks.
And being investigated for using a private email server for classified State Department communications just does not help.
Speaking of stumbles, I was at one of her National Press Club talks in Washington DC in 2002.
She had just moved out of the White House then, and came to talk to journalists and correspondents over lunch.
While giving her speech, she tripped over her own words and said, “As pres … first lady”. Of course, the media had a field day.
Fourteen years on, I wonder whether the slip was intentional. As a politician, Hillary is renowned for planning.
As a candidate, she learnt from her mistakes and corrected them. As a White House hopeful, she seems unstoppable.
This is not a woman who has not only shattered the glass ceiling. This is a woman who has persevered.
Dr Shazelina Zainul Abidin is a Malaysian diplomat who has served in the United Nations (New York)