In a live address Thursday night, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told his supporters that defeating Donald Trump must be the most immediate goal of his movement.
“The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly,” Sanders said in a speech streamed live on his website. “And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.”
But Sanders said that defeating Trump cannot be the only goal.
“We must continue our grassroots efforts to create the America that we know we can become,” Sanders said. “And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia where we will have more than 1,900 delegates.”
Sanders did not say he was suspending his campaign and did not offer an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. But he alluded to his recent meeting with the former secretary of State in Washington, D.C., and said he plans to work with her to make the Democratic Party platform more progressive.
“I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda,” Sanders said.
“I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party so that it becomes a party of working people and young people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors; a party that has the courage to take on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry and the other powerful special interests that dominate our political and economic life,” he said.
Sanders touted the accomplishments of his campaign and the grassroots enthusiasm it spurred. He urged his supporters to run for office and engage in politics at the local level.
“Here is a cold, hard fact that must be addressed,” Sanders said. “Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans in state after state throughout this country. In fact, the Republican Party now controls 31 state legislatures and controls both the governors’ mansions and statehouses in 23 states. That is unacceptable.”