Vermont Senator and 2016 presidential Cinderella candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. He was formerly her main rival in the surprising and epic battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders spoke alongside Clinton at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The endorsement came after the self-described "democratic socialist" won several important concessions during the Democratic platform meeting in Orlando last week. The endorsement comes less than two weeks before the Democratic National Convention begins in Philadelphia on July 28, and just six days before the Republicans are set to hold their own convention in Cleveland.
The 74-year-old senator was given extremely long odds when he threw his hat into the ring last April, going up against the much better-funded and more established Clinton campaign. But beginning in late 2015 and continuing through the entire Democratic primary, Sanders’ campaign smashed expectations and fundraising records, posting historic totals and numbers of individual donors. Although he never eclipsed Clinton in delegates, nor came close to her in the popular vote (Real Clear Politics has Clinton's popular vote lead at nearly four million), he turned what many had thought would be a cakewalk for Clinton into a battle. Still, in the past few weeks, Sanders faced increasing pressure from Democratic leaders to bow out and give his stamp of approval to Clinton.
The Sanders campaign provided a transcript of his remarks, which you can read in full below:
Let me begin by thanking the 13 million Americans who voted for me during the Democratic primaries. Let me also thank the people here in New Hampshire who gave us our first big win and a special thanks to the people of Vermont whose support for so many years has sustained me.
Let me also thank the hundreds of thousands of volunteers in every state in our country who worked so hard on our campaign and the millions of our contributors who showed the world that we could run a successful national campaign based on small individual contributions – 2 1/2 million of them.
Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues. Together, we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
I am proud of the campaign we ran here in New Hampshire and across the country. Our campaign won the primaries and caucuses in 22 states, and when the roll call at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is announced it will show that we won almost 1,900 delegates. That is a lot of delegates, far more than almost anyone thought we could win. But it is not enough to win the nomination. Secretary Clinton goes into the convention with 389 more pledged delegates than we have and a lot more super delegates.
Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.
I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future. That future will be shaped more by what happens on November 8 in voting booths across our nation than by any other event in the world. I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I amendorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president.
During the last year I had the extraordinary opportunity to speak to more than 1.4 million Americans at rallies in almost every state in this country. I was also able to meet with many thousands of other people at smaller gatherings. And the profound lesson that I have learned from all of that is that this campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, or any other candidate who sought the presidency. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face. And there is no doubt in my mind that, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.
It is easy to forget where we were seven and a half years ago when President Obama came into office. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs, we were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion dollars and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse. We have come a long way in the last seven and a half years and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession. But, I think we can all agree, much, much more needs to be done.
Too many people in America are still being left out, left behind and ignored. In the richest country in the history of the world there is too much poverty, and too much despair.
This election is about the single mom I saw in Nevada who, with tears in her eyes, told me that she was scared to death about the future because she and her young daughter were not making it on the $10.45 cents an hour she was earning. This election is about that woman, and the millions of other workers in this country who are falling further and further behind as they try to survive on totally inadequate wages.
Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.
But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different view. He believes that states should have the right to lower the minimum wage or even abolish the concept of the minimum wage altogether. If Donald Trump is elected, we will see no increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour – a starvation wage.
This election is about which candidate will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision which allows billionaires to buy elections and undermine our democracy; about who will appoint new justices on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman’s right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers’ rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment.
If you don’t believe this election is important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.
This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or under-insured. Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange, which will lower the cost of health care. She also believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt in to Medicare and she wants to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers throughout this country. Hillary is committed to seeing thousands of young doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists and other medical professionals practice in underserved areas as we follow through on President Obama’s idea of tripling funding for the National Health Service Corps.
In New Hampshire, in Vermont and across the country we have a major epidemic of opiate and heroin addiction. People are dying every day from overdoses. Hillary Clinton understands that if we are serious about addressing this crisis we need major changes in the way we deliver mental health treatment. That’s what expanding community health centers will do and that is what getting medical personnel into the areas we need them most will do.
And What is Donald Trump’s position on health care? No surprise there. Same old, same old Republican contempt for working families. He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off of the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans. The last thing we need today in America is a president who doesn’t care about whether millions will lose access to the health care coverage that they desperately need. We need more people with access to quality health care, not fewer.
Hillary Clinton also understands that millions of seniors, disabled vets and others are struggling with the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. She and I are in agreement that Medicare must negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and that we must expand the use of generic medicine. Drug companies should not be making billions in profits while one in five Americans are unable to afford the medicine they need. The greed of the drug companies must end.
This election is about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that currently exists, the worst it has been since 1928. Hillary Clinton knows that something is very wrong when the very rich become richer while many others are working longer hours for lower wages. She knows that it is absurd that middle-class Americans are paying an effective tax rate higher than hedge fund millionaires, and that there are corporations in this country making billions in profit while they pay no federal income taxes in a given year because of loopholes their lobbyists created. While Hillary Clinton supports making our tax code fairer, Donald Trump wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest people in this country. His reckless economic policies will not only exacerbate income and wealth inequality, they would increase our national debt by trillions of dollars.
This election is about the thousands of young people I have met who have left college deeply in debt, the many others who cannot afford to go to college and the need for this country to have the best educated workforce in the world if we are to compete effectively in a highly competitive global economy. Hillary Clinton believes that we must substantially lower student debt, and that we must make public colleges and universities tuition free for the middle class and working families of this country. This is a major initiative that will revolutionize higher education in this country and improve the lives of millions. Think of what it will mean when every child in this country, regardless of the income of their family, knows that if they study hard and do well in school – yes, they will be able to get a college education and leave school without debt.
This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that if we do not act boldly in the very near future there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels. She understands that we must work with countries around the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy – and that when we do that we can create a whole lot of good paying jobs. Donald Trump: Well, like most Republicans, he chooses to reject science – something no presidential candidate should do. He believes that climate change is a hoax. In fact, he wants to expand the use of fossil fuel. That would be a disaster for our country and our planet.
This election is about the leadership we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system. It’s about making sure that young people in this country are in good schools or at good jobs, not in jail cells. Secretary Clinton understands that we don’t need to have more people in jail than any other country on earth, at an expense of $80 billion a year.
In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, women, African Americans and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Yes. We become stronger when black and white, Latino, Asian American, Native American – all of us – stand together. Yes. We become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native born and immigrant fight to rid this country of all forms of bigotry.
It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee which ended Sunday night in Orlando, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton president – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.
I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.
Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today.
It has been a long road, but the Democratic Party now stands united.