After months of bitter campaigning, Bernie Sanders on Tuesday offered his long-awaited endorsement for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, saying he would work hard to help his former rival win the White House.
The joint appearance at a high school in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — their first — was the culmination of weeks of talks between the two campaigns aimed at unifying the party to most effectively take on Republican Donald Trump in November.
“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,” Sanders told a cheering crowd, with Clinton at his side.
“She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
The 74-year-old Sanders, a US senator from Vermont, offered voters a litany of reasons why the 68-year-old former secretary of state is a better choice than the 70-year-old Manhattan real estate mogul.
“If anyone out there thinks that this election is not important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country,” Sanders said.
Putting aside the acrimony, Clinton thanked Sanders for his endorsement — even if their body language did not exude warmth and was downright awkward at times.
“I am proud to be fighting alongside you,” she said. “We are stronger together.”
– ‘Most progressive platform’ –
Sanders waged a tougher-than-expected year-long battle against Clinton, but she clinched enough delegates to secure the nomination in early June.
The feisty self-described democratic socialist nevertheless had refused to concede defeat to his more moderate rival, although he had said he would vote for Clinton.
Sanders wants to ensure that his ideas are part of the party platform presented at the Democratic National Convention later this month in Philadelphia, when Clinton is formally nominated.
Sanders said that at weekend talks in Orlando, “there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
The party reached agreement on language concerning climate change, health care and raising the minimum wage in America to $15 per hour. They reportedly failed, however, to reach common ground on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord.
– Trump ready to pick running mate? –
Trump, who has proclaimed himself “the law and order candidate” amid rising gun violence, will campaign in Indiana later Tuesday.
His scheduled appearance with Governor Mike Pence is raising speculation that Trump could pick the state’s chief executive as his running mate.
Trump told The New York Times he expected to make an announcement by Friday.
“I have five candidates, plus two, two that are unknown to anybody,” Trump told the daily in a phone interview from Chicago.
Trump hit the campaign trail in Virginia Beach on Monday with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — one of those on the running mate shortlist.
Christie’s experience running a populous state could be seen as critical for Trump, who has acknowledged his own lack of political and government expertise.
Indiana’s Pence would bring executive experience as well, along with a perceived steady hand that could help counter the narrative that Trump is too incendiary and quick to provoke.
Pence made a tepid endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz but switched to Trump when Cruz dropped out.
“I’m prepared to make that case anywhere across Indiana and anywhere across this country that Donald Trump would want me to,” he said.
In the interview with the Times, Trump called Christie “strong” and Pence “solid as a rock.”