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Hillary Clinton Pivots Toward General Election After Primary Wins

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Primary season isn't over, but the results from yesterday's five East Coast states mean that on the Democratic side, the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is all but done. When you include superdelegates, Clinton now has 90 percent of the delegates she would need to clinch the nomination. Today Bernie Sanders said that his campaign would lay off hundreds of staffers, though he says he is not dropping out. Earlier, Sanders talked to supporters in Indiana, the next state to vote.

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BERNIE SANDERS: We are in this campaign to win, but if we do not win, we intend to win every delegate that we can so that when we go to Philadelphia in July, we're going to have the votes to put together the strongest progressive agenda that any political party has ever seen.

(CHEERING)

MCEVERS: Meanwhile, as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, Hillary Clinton and Republican front-runner Donald Trump are making a turn toward the general election.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: In her victory speech in Philadelphia last night, Hillary Clinton spoke first to Bernie Sanders' supporters.

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HILLARY CLINTON: Whether you support Senator Sanders or you support me, there's much more that unites us than divides us.

(CHEERING)

KEITH: She went through a laundry list of policy areas where she said Democrats agree, and then Clinton turned her gaze to the general election, criticizing the likely GOP nominees.

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CLINTON: To my friends, if you are a Democrat, an independent or a thoughtful Republican, you know their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality. So instead of letting them take us backwards, we want America to be in the future business.

KEITH: This was largely a new speech for Clinton, although she plans to keep campaigning hard in each of the remaining states to vote, as does Sanders. Her campaign is already sending emails pushing back on Trump on policy and tweeting up a storm about his latest comments. Jennifer Palmieri is Clinton's communications director.

JENNIFER PALMIERI: It's certainly prudent at this point and necessary to prepare for a general election. And we have been making preparation, and we'll continue to do so as the next seven weeks wind down and we head into Philadelphia.

KEITH: Not more than an hour later at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the Republican front-runner made it clear he was looking to the general election too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think the only card she has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote.

KEITH: Trump had used a variation on this line before, and the Clinton strategy thus far has been to take any personal attacks from Trump and say they're really attacks on whole groups of people. That's exactly what she did last night.

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CLINTON: Mr. Trump accused me of playing the, quote, "woman card."

(BOOING)

CLINTON: Well, if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.

(CHEERING)

KEITH: It only took Clinton's campaign about an hour to release a web video putting the remarks side-by-side - Trump with ominous music behind him, Clinton smiling the whole time. If the primaries stay on the path they're on, we can expect a lot more of this over the next six months. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.