The D.C. Democratic primary on Tuesday not only marks the end of the primary season but also the beginning of the tango between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The two will have their first face-to-face since she became the party's presumptive nominee after voting in the nation's capital wraps up. She wants his endorsement — a big step toward winning his supporters — and a drama-free convention. But he wants a progressive Democratic party platform in exchange. So how will that play out between now and Philadelphia in July? Here's what we know about what the Clinton & Sanders' meeting might really mean.
It doesn't seem that Tuesday will be the night Sanders suspends and endorses Clinton — despite the increasing pressure now that President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed her. Instead, based on his comments earlier Tuesday, he's likely to push for changes in the Democratic Party. Even though his revolution hasn't transformed the nation, it can at least shake things within the party, he must be thinking. "The time is long overdue for a fundamental transformation of the Democratic Party," he said at a press conference Tuesday, called at the last minute, just hours before his planned meeting with Clinton.
It looks like he has a long list of demands that he hopes the party will implement — and most of them should sound familiar. There are two areas that he's focused on. One is an overhaul of the primary process and party rules — starting with the party leadership. He called for someone who is "who is vigorously supporting and out working to bring people into the political process," potentially a dig at Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the current DNC chairwoman who has been seen as a closet Hillary supporter in favor of superdelegates deciding the election's outcome.
Among the changes he hopes new leadership would implement are open primaries that allow independents and Republicans to participate, the elimination of superdelegates, same-day voter registration, and increased resources for timely counting of ballots.
But that's not all. His other focus Tuesday wash his hope to cement the party as a progressive force. "We are going to fight as hard as we can to create a Democratic Party, which represents the working families and the low-income people in this country open the party to young people," he said at the press conference, stressing the way to do this was with "the most progressive platform ever passed by the Democratic Party."
These are the issues the two are likely to talk about. Sanders himself said on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday that he wanted to get a sense from Clinton about the platform, naming income inequality, healthcare, and student loan debt as the most important issues to him. "I look forward to sitting down with Sec. Clinton to see what kind of platform she is going to support and in fact how aggressive she is going to be in addressing the major crises that we face," he said on the program.
During the meeting he plans to "put his cards on the table," aides told CNN, adding that Sanders respects Clinton. They predict the meeting will be "amicable and hopefully constructive." Clinton aides have also been positive about Clinton's outlook. "She looks forward to the opportunity to discuss how they can advance their shared commitment to a progressive agenda, and work together to stop Donald Trump in the general election," a Clinton campaign official told Reuters.
Sanders has increasingly been speaking out against Trump instead of attacking Clinton. "Our goal must not be to allow politicians, Donald Trump or anyone else, to divide us," he said at Tuesday's news conference. "Let me make it very clear if I haven't 10,000 times previously, I think Donald Trump is totally unfit to be president of the United States."
Whatever agreements he and Clinton come to, it might not be clear until Thursday. That's when Sanders plans to direct his grassroots supporters via live video from Burlington, Vermont, a Sanders' spokesperson Michael Briggs said. "I expect that he will be a candidate through the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, as he has said before," Briggs added.
At least that's the story before Tuesday's meeting. Maybe Clinton can convince Sanders to hop on board a little sooner.