On Tuesday night, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a meeting for the first time since Clinton secured enough delegates to becoming her party's nominee. The ill-timed meeting happened after Clinton's overwhelming victory against Sanders in the Washington, D.C., Democratic primary.
The last nominating contest leading up to July's Democratic National Convention, Clinton won the D.C. primary with nearly 80 percent of the popular vote and seemingly putting the last nail in the coffin of Sanders' hard-fought and contentious presidential bid. Needless to say, the pair's meeting was intense, but one thing remained: Sanders isn't planning on dropping out any time soon.
Clinton and Sanders were both "a little tense" due to the fervor with which they'd fought each other in the media and at the polls, according to the New York Times. Anonymous Sanders advisers told the Times that the Vermont senator is concerned about Clinton's positions going forward and worried she will take moderate stances to win more conservative states, like Florida and Ohio, "if she see thinks it necessary to win."
Clinton and Sanders were joined by Sanders' wife, Jane, and his Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver, as well as Clinton's Campaign Chairman John D. Podesta and Campaign Manager Robby Mook.
The Times article reported Clinton's camp was divided about whether or not they need Sanders; while some consider a Sanders endorsement "a significant concern," others see it as less of an issue, saying the party will unify itself against Trump with or without the votes of former Sanders supporters.
After their meeting, both Clinton and Sanders released remarkably similar statements about their meeting, providing slightly varying descriptions of their discussion on progressive issues, such as raising the minimum wage and reducing college costs. Many noted that Sanders is still in the race, and made no indication of dropping out in his statement. All the same, Sanders appears to be making moves towards closing out his campaign, and according to a Bloomberg article, his insistence on staying in the race "no longer seems to threaten party unity as Democrats once fretted it would." Instead, he hopes to use his continued substantial backing to help change the party's platform and nomination process.
While D.C. voters headed to the polls, Sanders dropped in on the Senate Democrat's weekly caucus lunch and received a standing ovation from his peers. Sanders' colleague Bob Casey, a senator from Pennsylvania, said Sanders "can, I think, and will, play a constructive role in making sure Secretary Clinton wins.”
Although Sanders has not dropped out of the race, strategist Anita Dunn said Sanders is following the lead of Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson, who remained in the 1984 presidential race until the convention but stopped actively campaigning against Walter Mondale, who became the nominee.
As the nation enters the calm before the storm that will follow the July partisan conventions, there's no way of knowing what shenanigans either of the presumptive nominees (or Sanders) will get up to. As each candidate leverages the Orlando shooting towards their agendas, Sanders' and other Democrats' call for unity couldn't be more timely.