Bernie Sanders on Thursday vowed to fight on through the Democratic convention in July, but signaled he will join the party in its efforts to defeat presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“We will continue doing everything we can” to advocate for the issues he has made a hallmark of his campaign, he said after an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, promising to “take” those issues to the convention.
He said he has spoken with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton about working together to defeat Trump.
Though he did not say when or if he is dropping out, he sounded ready to join forces with Clinton, saying he intends to meet with her “in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump and create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent.”
“It is unbelievable to me, and I say this with all sincerity, that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president, who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign,” Sanders said.
“In my view, the American people will not vote for or tolerate a candidate who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults African-Americans and women,” he added. “Needless to say, I am going to do everything in my power and I will work as hard as I can to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States.”
Party brass held private conversations with Sanders all day — including a planned late-afternoon meeting between he and Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., at the Naval Observatory — trying to bring him and his supporters into their general-election fold.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid indicated his colleague was falling in line.
“I didn’t hear a single word about him wanting to change the fact that (Clinton’s) the nominee.” Reid said. “I think he’s accepted that.”
Reid also expected that Sanders would campaign for Senate Democrats.
Congresswoman: Sanders Wouldn’t Want His Supporters Moving to Trump
Though there still were plenty of signs that top Washington Democrats were eager to give Sanders plenty of, as White House spokesman Josh Earnest put it, “time and space” to decide when to formally fold his campaign.
They want to avoid insulting or pressuring him to do before next Tuesday’s Washington, D.C., primary, however, fearful he could take his 12 million voters and sit out the general election.
“Hillary stayed in in 2008 until the last votes had been cast,” said a Sanders campaign adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be candid. “Look, he already laid off half his campaign staff so there’s not much he can do after D.C.”
Still, Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, believes Sanders’ campaign is in its final days.
“Bernie came damn close to endorsing her today,” he said.
At a rally on Thursday night in Washington, Sanders was greeted with cheers of “Thank you Bernie!” as he took the stage.
“Here we are in June and still standing,” he said.
During a fundraiser Wednesday evening in New York, Obama alluded to the need to bring many of the young people in the Sanders camp into the fold if Democrats hope to defeat Trump. He noted many of them feel disenfranchised, which led them to Sanders.
“And those young people are still out there,” Obama said, “but we’ve got to [get] each them.”
At a separate fundraiser last week in Florida, Obama told Democratic donors he wants the party’s candidates up and down the ballot to “run scared.”
Obama endorsed Clinton following his meeting with Sanders.