Would Hillary Clinton Endorse Bernie Sanders? The Democratic Party Usually Stays United
Last weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders saw one of the most successful days of his campaign, winning landslide victories in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii that allowed him to narrow the delegate deficit between him and his rival. Although Sanders still trails Hillary Clinton by 228 pledged delegates, Saturday's primaries kicked off early rumblings of murmured debate over whether Clinton would endorse Sanders if she lost the nomination.
Clinton has never explicitly said she'll exchange her "I'm fighting for us" slogan for "I'm fighting for him" should Sanders pick up the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in July. But in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Clinton said she believed it was the duty of the losing candidate to throw their support behind the nominee after the presidential primary race concludes. It should be stated, however, that Clinton wasn't talking directly about her willingness to support Sanders, she was discussing her hope the Democratic Party would present a united front behind its eventual nominee, aka her. Said Clinton:
I hope that if I am fortunate enough to secure the nomination, that we will come together as a party — as I did when we ended our very tough contest and I endorsed then-Sen. Obama. I nominated him at our convention in Denver, and worked my heart out to get him elected. Because that's what I think you do when a primary is over... I believe that I will be the Democratic nominee. I certainly hope that Sen. Sanders and his supports will join ranks, the way that I did with President Obama.
Given Clinton's feelings about duty, and the fact that she did publicly support Obama after she lost the nomination in 2008, it's highly probable she'd begin to #FeelTheBern — at least publicly — if the Vermont senator overtook her lead and won the nomination, no matter her current frustrations with Sanders' campaign. She recently lost her cool with a Greenpeace activist when asked if she'd consider rejecting money from the fossil-fuel industry in the future during a rally in upstate New York. "I'm so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me, I'm sick of it," an agitated Clinton exclaimed, after clarifying she only took campaign donations from employees of fossil-fuel companies.
Clinton isn't the only member of her campaign talking about presenting a unified front of support in the general election. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said Thursday he'd have no problem using his superdelegate vote to support Sanders if he won the nomination. "It happened last time," Bill told the New York Daily News after being asked about his potential conflict of interest while in Manhattan. "Last time, I did what my candidate asked. I voted for Barack Obama." Bill's comments only further bolster the argument that Clinton would indeed endorse Sanders if he won the nomination.
Throughout the primary, Clinton and Sanders have both remained diplomatic and, on occasion, even downright evasive when asked if they'd endorse the other. Granted, much of that talk seems disproportionately aimed at getting Sanders to admit a willingness to endorse Clinton. But supporters of both candidates have been embroiled in debate over whether they'd cast their vote for their preferred candidate's rival in the general election should their first choice lose the nomination. Most recently, Susan Sarandon and Debra Messing argued the issue in 140 characters over Twitter after Sarandon said she would rather vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump than Clinton if Sanders, her preferred candidate, lost the race for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton's recent comments and her history as a supportive runner-up means she'd likely throw her vote behind Sanders if the Democratic National Convention ended with failing to secure the party's nomination. The real question is, would her support base and superdelegates follow?