Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at a New Hampshire rally Tuesday morning, at last ending a searing and closer-than-expected primary campaign against the former Secretary of State.
“It is not enough to win the nomination,” said Sanders at Portsmouth High School Tuesday, joined by Clinton on stage. “Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process and I congratulate her for that... I intend to do everything I can to make sure she will be the next President of the United States.”
Sanders, before retiring his 15-month campaign, had hinted in previous weeks that he was inching toward an endorsement of Clinton, saying last month that he planned to vote for her and insisting in several interviews that his primary goal was to keep presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump out of the White House.
But Sanders refused to officially drop out after Clinton secured the necessary number of delegates to win the nomination, directing his efforts toward making the party platform more progressive. He eventually won concessions on health care and the minimum wage when a party committee met in Orlando last weekend ahead of the convention later this month.
Sanders’ endorsement — delivered less than two weeks before Democrats gather in Philadelphia — likely means the senator will also speak at the party’s national convention.
On Tuesday, Sanders with Clinton standing to his right, thanked those who had volunteered and contributed to his campaign: "Together we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues."
But Sanders, whose supporters have been divided on supporting Clinton, seemed to address the undecided when he explicitly said Clinton "will be the Democratic nominee for president." "I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president," he said.
Sanders pointed to "greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street" and the need for a president who would nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Citizens United decision. He touched on several cornerstones of his progressive campaign — climate change, raising the minimum wage, ending college debt for young people — and singled out Clinton as a candidate willing to address them.
He nodded to disagreements between both candidates during the embattled primary but said, "That's what democracy is about." He praised the new party platform as "the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party" and urged supporters to work toward "a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency."
Sanders also had praise for Clinton. "I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. We were a bit younger then," he joked. "I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of our children."
"And I know her and you know her as one of the most intelligent people we have ever met," he added.
Clinton in turn, thanked Sanders for his endorsement and "lifetime of fighting injustice." "He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country," she said, remarking "how much more enjoyable this election is going to be now that we are on the same side."
She touched on several of Sanders' talking points, including college debt, and called out Trump for suggesting cuts to the minimum wage. Her overlying theme, however, remained the party unity belatedly brought by Sanders' endorsement Tuesday. "This is a time for all of us to stand together," she said. “These aren't just my fights. They're Bernie's fights. They're America's fights.”
Trump, ahead of Tuesday's endorsement, criticized Sanders for formally throwing his support behind Clinton.
Sanders "has totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton," he wrote. "I am somewhat surprised that Bernie Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters. They are not happy that he is selling out!"