Sanders Fighting to End of Primary; “Can’t Snap” Fingers & Tell Supporters to Back Clinton

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

I don’t want this point to get lost. It was made in a longer piece I recently did, but it’s important as a stand-alone.

After the New York primary, Bernie Sanders took a day off and appeared, to me at least, to take a moment to get his feet back under him (I like the athlete metaphor since he is one). Then he came back strong with these two messages:

  • I’m fighting until the last vote is cast (so don’t keep asking me).
  • I’ll back Clinton if she’s the nominee, but she has to earn my supporters on her own.

We heard them again on the recent MSNBC Town Hall. Jane Sanders said the same thing here. His press release after the April 26 voting said exactly the same thing as well.

I think these will be his last words through the last contest in June, and I think we can count on him to stick to them. After that, the convention (what I’ve been calling the “crossroad in Philadelphia”) will be what it is, based on the landscape in July. (For thoughts on that landscape, see here.)

Watch the Sanders interview with George Stephanopoulos above for the direct account. Yahoo News on that interview (my emphasis):

Following Bernie Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the New York primary last week, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, vowed that the Vermont senator would take his fight to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July.

But on Sunday, Sanders would only look as far ahead as California’s Democratic primary on June 7.

From an edited transcript (emphasis original):

Stephanopoulos: If the contest doesn’t go the way you hope, will you be able to follow the Clinton model of 2008, which she talked about on this “GMA” town hall this week, and make an enthusiastic case for her the way she pushed for President Obama?

Sanders: That is totally dependent on what the Clinton platform is and how she responds to the needs of millions of Americans who are sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics.

I can’t snap my finger and tell people what to do. What I will do, is do everything I can to make sure that somebody like a Donald Trump, or some other right-wing Republican, does not become the president of the United States. We don’t need more tax breaks for billionaires, more cuts to Social Security and Medicare, more ignoring the fact — Republicans don’t accept the reality of climate change, let alone being prepared to do something about it.

So I will do everything that I can to defeat any Republican candidate. If Secretary Clinton is the nominee, she will have to make the case to the American people, not just to my supporters but all Americans, that she is prepared to stand up to the billionaire class….

I hope you noticed his emphasis of my second bulleted point —  “[Making an ‘enthusiastic case for her’] is totally dependent on what the Clinton platform is and how she responds to the needs of millions of Americans … I can’t snap my finger and tell people what to do. … If Secretary Clinton is the nominee, she will have to make the case to the American people, not just to my supporters but all Americans, that she is prepared to stand up to the billionaire class…”

Thus the battle continues, with Peter Daou saying on behalf of the Clinton camp that it’s time for the mountain to come to Mohammad instead. Thus the battle continues. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current Clinton third-quarter surge didn’t go to their hubristic heads. If so, that won’t work out as they want it to, I think, as the delegate game enters the fourth, pre-Philadelphia, quarter.

One step at a time is the smartest way to play this. No one can suss the situation in Philadelphia until we get there.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you’d like to help out, go here. If you’d like to “phone-bank for Bernie,” go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)

 

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