Well, it’s official. Bernie Sanders finally “endorsed” Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, at a joint campaign appearance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But it was not exactly a ringing endorsement. Was the endorsement because of Clinton’s character or courage? Was it about her family or values? Was it about her experience or intelligence? Was it even about ideals?
Not really. Sanders says he endorses her because, well, he lost.
“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,” Sanders said at a joint rally here. “Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination and I congratulate her for that.”
Wow. Like pulling teeth to get him to say that. But he did say he’d campaign for her.
The 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist, who has been a thorn in Clinton’s side over the last year, pledged his support to his former rival: “I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
Then, in Donald Trump fashion, Sanders congratulated himself, instead.
“Let me begin by thanking the 13 million Americans who voted for me during the Democratic primaries,” Sanders said. “Our campaign won the primaries and caucuses in 22 states, and when the roll call at the Democratic National Convention is announced, it will show that we won almost 1,900 delegates.”
The full text of Sanders’ “endorsement” is here, but it’s amazing that he continued his self-congratulation.
Let me also thank the hundreds of thousands of volunteers in every state in our country who worked so hard on our campaign and the millions of our contributors who showed the world that we could run a successful national campaign based on small individual contributions — 2 1/2 million of them.
Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues. Together, we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
I am proud of the campaign we ran here in New Hampshire and across the country.
Adding a sort of dig at the system. . .
Secretary Clinton goes into the convention with 389 more pledged delegates than we have and a lot more super delegates. Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process. . .
Thanks to the “process,” Clinton won. There’s more. . .
During the last year I had the extraordinary opportunity to speak to more than 1.4 million Americans at rallies in almost every state in this country. I was also able to meet with many thousands of other people at smaller gatherings. And the profound lesson that I have learned from all of that is that this campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton. . .
This election is about the single mom I saw in Nevada who, with tears in her eyes, told me that she was scared to death about the future because she and her young daughter were not making it on the $10.45 cents an hour she was earning. This election is about that woman, and the millions of other workers in this country who are falling further and further behind as they try to survive on totally inadequate wages.
In the entire “endorsement,” there were only a few words that could be seen as pro-Hillary. There are more words devoted to anti-Trump. It wasn’t really an “endorsement,” it was just a “concession”—and a “resignation” that he thought Hillary was the lesser of the two evils.
Here’s video of the event from earlier today:
Meanwhile, of course, Trump responded on Twitter (of course). He said it just shows that Sanders is now corrupt, too.
Bernie Sanders, who has lost most of his leverage, has totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton. He will endorse her today – fans angry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2016
Bernie didn’t take it lying down, but still didn’t defend Hillary:
Big talk from the same guy who was too afraid to debate Bernie in California. https://t.co/LVCjo0PKrN
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 12, 2016
The awkwardness of the “endorsement” was obvious, even from “across the pond,” as reported by Britain’s Guardian.
They are the odd couple of presidential campaigners: a charmless but effective control freak and a reckless but lovable shambles. Together, their extreme discomfort has been clear – for more than a year they couldn’t stand each other’s company. Now they apparently understand how much they need one another. . .
Awkwardness is the hallmark of these two candidates who deliver their applause lines with all the subtlety of tanks shelling their own supporters. Sanders said he was proud to stand with Clinton, but if that was his happy face, you’d hate to see him angry. Clinton thanked her introducers like she was denouncing them for all to see.
But the Guardian notes that it may already be too late for Trump to attract a significant number of Bernie fans.
The payoff is already clear. The latest NBC/Wall St Journal poll shows that Sanders supporters are warming up to Clinton as their nominee: 45% of his supporters now have a positive view of her, compared to just 38% last month. The feelings are lopsided in reverse: 60% of Clinton supporters have a positive feeling towards Sanders, suggesting Clinton has a long way to go to bring the Sanders voters fully on board this summer.
As bad as this is, the situation on the Republican side is even worse. According to a recent Pew poll, 85% of Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton while 9% will vote for Trump and 6% say any other candidate. In contrast, among GOP supporters of the many candidates who faced down Trump in the primaries, 77% will vote for Trump while 14% will vote for Clinton and another 9% say any other candidate.
How bad is that 14% anti-Trump vote inside the Republican party? Four years ago, just 4% of Romney’s GOP rivals supported Obama.
OK, Hillary wins this “news cycle”. . .maybe. But everyone expected that Bernie would eventually “concede,” and many expected a genuine “endorsement,” which is not at all what this was. And the “glory” will be short lived, since the real news this week is Donald Trump’s anxiously expected announcement of his vice presidential pick.