Bernie Sanders Finally Endorses Hillary Clinton
Well that took long enough.
After the better part of a year of a campaign that seemed quixotic to put it nicely, and more than a month after the result of the race for the Democratic nomination for President was officially known, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton for President:
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — After 14 months of policy clashes and moments of mutual disdain, Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, clearing away the last major obstacle to a united Democratic front heading into the party’s convention this month and the general election this fall.
Entering the high school gymnasium together and waving and shaking hands along the rope line and from the stage, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders stood before a giant American flag image flanked by Mrs. Clinton’s motto, “Stronger Together.” They appeared to chat briefly before Mr. Sanders spoke, and he patted her on the back before Mr. Sanders stepped forward to cheers to “Unity!”
“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process,” Mr. Sanders said, as cheers erupted and Mrs. Clinton broke into a wide smile. “And I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president, and I intend to do everything I can to make certain that she will be the next president of the United States.”
“I have come here to make it as clear as possible why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president.”
Mr. Sanders, the fiercely independent senator from Vermont, who portrayed Mrs. Clinton as a captive of big-money interests during their race, was in a bittersweet but resolute mood, according to Sanders advisers, as he took the stage with her at Portsmouth High School. He was back in a state that once filled his campaign with hope, after he crushed Mrs. Clinton by 22 percentage points in the February primary, and he came around grudgingly to supporting her, the advisers said. But he was also determined to make a strong case against Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, and to champion Mrs. Clinton as the only chance to defeat him.
Whether Mrs. Clinton can also win over the 13 million Sanders voters will be one of her biggest challenges at the convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia and in the weeks ahead. About 85 percent of Democrats who backed Mr. Sanders in the primary contests said they planned to vote for her in the general election, according to a Pew poll released last week. Yet she has struggled to appeal to the independents and liberals who rallied behind the senator’s call for a “political revolution” to topple establishment politicians, Mrs. Clinton included.
“With your help, we’re joining forces to defeat Donald Trump, win in November, and build a future we can all believe in,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Thank you, thank you Bernie for your endorsement, but more than that, thank you for your lifetime of fighting injustice. I am proud to be fighting alongside you because, my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together.”
Mrs. Clinton is counting on Mr. Sanders to help bring his supporters into her camp, and Sanders advisers said he would try. In a text message on Tuesday before this campaign event, Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said the senator and his wife feel as if their voters should feel encouraged.
“They feel like the millions of people who were the heart and soul of the campaign have a lot to be proud about,” Mr. Briggs wrote as he drove from Vermont with Senator Sanders and Ms. Sanders to the New Hampshire event.
One person close to Mr. Sanders said the senator and his wife were “putting on a good face” Tuesday but were disappointed that his campaign did not succeed after he gave it so much of his energy and rallied millions of people around his ideas. The person, a longtime top political adviser to Mr. Sanders who spoke on condition of anonymity to share the private views of the couple, also said the senator was resolved to keep his word that he would endorse the Democratic nominee and that he has been told by some high-ranking Democrats that he could become chairman of the committee that will work on trying to carry out a proposed $15 federal minimum wage.
Denouncing Mr. Trump as much as praising Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders unfurled an aggressive, point-by-point comparison of the policy positions of the two candidates, arguing that “there is no doubt in my mind that, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate.”
Largely blurring over his own differences with Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders aligned himself with her on creating more jobs, raising the minimum wage, expanding access to government-run health care, combating climate change, and offering relief to college students in deep debt. But he made no mention of new regulations on Wall Street and his disgust for billionaire-driven “super PACS,” two points on which he hammered Mrs. Clinton during their long nomination fight.
“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues — that is what this campaign has been about, that is what democracy is about,” Mr. Sanders said.
He left it to Mrs. Clinton to promise aggressive action to police greed on Wall Street and overhaul the campaign finance system.
“It is past time to end the stranglehold of wealthy special interests in Washington,” she said as Mr. Sanders smiled and clapped. Still, she did not promise to forego major donations herself: After the event she planned to fly to New York for a private matinee performance of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” for donors who gave $2,700 to $100,000 to her campaign or the Democratic National Committee.
On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton has been focused on winning over independents and Republican-leaning women who are turned off by Mr. Trump, exuding confidence that the young voters and liberals who backed Mr. Sanders would get in line and support her when faced with the prospect of a Trump presidency instead.
But behind the scenes, her senior campaign aides have tried to build bridges to a wing of the party skeptical of Mrs. Clinton and the brand of centrist politics her husband advanced. Since she clinched the number of delegates needed to secure her party’s nomination on June 7, the campaign has reached out to Mr. Sanders’s supporters, dispatching the campaign manager Robby Mook, the director of states and political engagement, Marlon Marshall, and the top policy adviser Jake Sullivan, to states where Mr. Sanders defeated Mrs. Clinton, including New Hampshire, Wyoming, Vermont and Washington State.
Notwithstanding the fantasies of many of Sanders supporters and political pundits, including most recently rumors of a bizarre proposal by Green Party nominee Jill Stein that involved her giving up her place on the ticket in favor of Sanders as the Green Party nominee, it was inevitable that this day was coming. While the success of his campaign may have caused Sanders to briefly flirt with the idea that he might actually have a shot at being the nominee, something reflected in the fact that his rhetoric against Clinton became increasingly vitriolic as the campaign went on and he fell further behind in the delegate count and in the stubbornness he displayed in refusing to admit the obvious as the end of the campaign got closer, in the end it was always clear that Sanders had something other than winning the nomination in mind when he entered the race. Instead, Sanders obvious intended to use his candidacy to take up the task that otherwise would have been undertaken by Senator Elizabeth Warren had she entered the race, promoting the progressive ideas that many in that wing of the party believed would not receive sufficient attention from Hillary Clinton otherwise. That campaign, of course, succeeded far better than Sanders likely imagined it would, and he certainly performed better than any pundit predicted it would, something that can be seen in the fact that the Democratic Party platform adopted many of the policy positions that Sanders advocated, including a call for $15 per hour minimum wage.
One suspects that this endorsement will have a beneficial impact on Hillary Clinton’s campaign heading into the Democratic National Convention a week from next Monday. Already, the end of the campaign and Sanders’ decision to largely cease his attacks on Clinton in favor of taking aim at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has helped Clinton’s standing in the polls, and a formal endorsement is likely to help her even more. What will be interesting to see as we get into the end of July and early August is what the endorsement plus the conventions means for the state of the race overall. Ordinarily, we can expect that both Trump and Clinton will get something of a bounce in their poll numbers as a result of their respective conventions, but the fact that they are so close together suggests that Clinton may end up getting the better end of the deal there. In any case, other than selecting her running mate, this is the last matter that Clinton needed to resolve prior to the convention in Philadelphia. Now that it’s done, she can move forward.