Clinton unity train leaves station without Sanders
Liz Goodwin 1 hour 28 minutes ago
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to and meets Ohio voters during a rally at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, June 27, 2016. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
On Monday in Cincinnati, Hillary Clinton gave a populist economic speech calling for higher taxes on rich people and tough regulations on Wall Street.
Yet Sen. Bernie Sanders, who pushed Clinton to the left on those very issues during the long primary, was nowhere to be found. The presumptive Democratic nominee was flanked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has possibly more leftist credibility on the issue of income inequality than anyone but Sanders. “I’m with her!” Warren cried as the crowd roared.
As Sanders refuses to throw his support behind Clinton, weeks after she clinched the nomination, her campaign has had to launch its party unity strategy without him. At the national level, Clinton appeared with Warren, and will soon rally alongside President Barack Obama and, later, Vice President Joe Biden. Both are incredibly popular among Democrats.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s local campaign teams in Florida and other states are arranging joint phone banks and cookouts that bring Sanders and Clinton supporters together to organize against Republican Donald Trump — even in the absence of Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton.
Sanders supporters are slowly warming to Clinton less than a month before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, according to a NBC News poll released this week. Forty-five percent of Sanders supporters had a positive view of Clinton, up from 38 percent last month. When forced to choose between Clinton and Trump, nearly 80 percent backed Clinton. But when given the option to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian Gary Johnson, only 63 percent of Sanders supporters picked Clinton, which shows her campaign still has work to do to win over her party’s progressive wing.
The Clinton team has a line up of heavyweights to help them in this fight. In addition to Warren’s Monday appearance with Clinton, the former secretary of state’s campaign is rescheduling her first joint campaign appearance with Obama, which was scrambled after the Orlando shooting. Biden is also expected to play a large role in efforts to knit Democrats together, hitting the trail alongside Clinton “sooner rather than later,” according to a source familiar with his plans.
“He will do whatever he can to help,” the source told Yahoo News on condition of anonymity. Biden “will be very focused on white working class voters in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan — he has unique resonance with them in the party,” the source said.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Clinton backer who once chaired the Democratic National Committee, said that he believed Warren is the “second-best weapon” for unifying the party, but that the best weapon still needs to be deployed.
“I still think we need Bernie Sanders,” Rendell said.
Some Sanders supporters view Biden and Obama suspiciously because of their support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal Clinton backed as secretary of state that she now rejects. Sanders made his opposition to TPP a central plank of his campaign. The Vermont senator’s fans are wary of Warren, too, for remaining neutral during the primary, Rendell said.
“No one’s better for [rallying rank-and-file Democrats) than the president, vice president and Elizabeth Warren,” Rendell said. But, “10 or 15 percent of Sanders supporters can only be motivated if Bernie rolls up his sleeves and really wades in.”
President Barack Obama walks with Vice President Joe Biden during their visit to a makeshift memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 16, 2016, in Orland, Fla., honoring those killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
That’s not an option for now, as Sanders maintains he will fight all the way to the convention in Philadelphia, even as he concedes he will not be the nominee and will vote for Clinton in November.
The Clinton campaign pointed to endorsements from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and progressive groups like the Sierra Club as signs the party is unifying without Sanders. Grijalva endorsed Sanders during the primary.
Her team also says the Democratic Party platform draft, released last weekend, is a key sign that the party’s factions are coming together. It calls for a ban on the death penalty, a $15 minimum wage, sweeping criminal justice reform, expanding Social Security and bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act to target banks. The Clinton campaign called the draft the most progressive platform the party has ever seen.
Sanders, however, says the platform does not go far enough. He wants it to include a tax on carbon emissions, more “definitive” language around the minimum wage and, most importantly to him, a provision in favor of allowing Congress to vote on the TPP. Obama is still pushing for the trade pact, and it would be unusual for the party to rebuke a major initiative of a sitting president in its platform.
Clinton’s local staffers are organizing events to encourage collegiality among Sanders and Clinton delegates ahead of the convention. A Clinton campaign official in Florida said the phone banking, voter registration and cookouts they’ve planned with Sanders-supporting delegates in the next few weeks are designed so both candidates’ delegates can talk about the issues in which they share “common ground.”
Juan Cuba, the head of the Democrats of Miami-Dade County who voted for Sanders in the primary, said he thinks Trump is motivating Sanders supporters like him to get behind Clinton. “I think a lot of Sanders supporters are realizing that we don’t have to stop organizing around progressive values,” he said. “We can keep going.”
—Olivier Knox contributed reporting to this story.