Bernie Sanders on Friday said he will cast his vote for Hillary Clinton in November. But he’s not all the way with her — at least, not yet.
“Yes,” the Vermont senator said when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he would vote for the former secretary of state this fall. “I think the issue right here is, I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump.”
Story Continued Below
In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” however, Sanders’ stance wasn’t as firm. Asked who his vote would go to on Nov. 8, Sanders responded, “In all likelihood, it will go to Hillary Clinton.”
Sanders told “CBS This Morning” that his campaign and Clinton’s have been communicating and working closely, but he hasn’t endorsed her “because I haven’t heard her say the things that I think need to be said.”
He suggested Clinton would need to advocate for tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage and health care for all, among other things, to secure his endorsement.
“I would love her to say that, and I would love her to move forward aggressively to make that happen,” Sanders said, adding that he doesn’t know when or if he’ll endorse the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee but “would hope” it would happen before the convention.
Sanders has yet to formally concede the Democratic primary to Clinton, instead maintaining his pledge to campaign through the Democratic National Convention. But on Friday, he offered the clearest sign yet that he will support his primary rival, if only to prevent a Trump administration — though he stressed that he didn’t want to “parse words.”
“I think Trump in so many ways will be a disaster for this country if he were to be elected president,” Sanders told MSNBC. “We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change when virtually every scientist who has studied this issue understands that we have a global crisis. This is not somebody who should become president.”
Despite seeming to walk back his promise to vote for Clinton during his interview with CNN, the senator offered more direct language against the chances of a Trump White House when asked whether Brexit foreshadows a Trump presidency next year.
“Donald Trump is not gonna win, and he’s not gonna win because the American people will not elect somebody who is a bigot,” Sanders said. “And I would hope that Secretary Clinton begins to understand that she has gotta stand up and take on the big money interests, whose greed is doing so much harm to our country, and make it clear to those low-income people, those working people, that she is on their side.”
Pressed later in the same CNN interview on how confident he is that Clinton can defeat Trump, Sanders remarked, “I think everything being equal, she should be able to beat him because he is a very, very flawed candidate.”
“And I think the American people, again, understand that you can’t elect somebody to be president who does not even believe in the reality of climate change, who bases his campaign on bigotry, who wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent, yeah, I think she can beat him,” Sanders told Chris Cuomo.
Clinton’s campaign downplayed Sanders’ comments on whom he would vote for and instead highlighted how she is uniting the party, touting a string of endorsements from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“I think that those words matter less than, for instance, the fact that we have earned the endorsement in the last couple weeks of President Obama, Vice President Biden. We’re gonna be campaigning with Sen. Warren next Monday,” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon told CNN. “So I think you’re seeing all kinds of signs of the party coalescing around Hillary Clinton as the nominee of this party. Meanwhile, you have divisions remaining on the Republican side.”
With the conclusion of primary voting on June 14 with the District of Columbia, Clinton has an insurmountable delegate lead. She has nearly 1,000 more delegates and 3.7 million more votes than Sanders — a point he readily accepted.
“I’m pretty good at arithmetic,” Sanders told CBS, “and what I know is that Hillary Clinton has more pledged delegates than I do, and she has a lot more superdelegates than I do. But what I also know is we’re bringing 1,900 delegates into the convention, that we have received 13 million votes.”
Although Sanders realizes the political reality that he will not be president — or even the Democratic nominee — he isn’t ready to give up just yet.
“Why would I wanna do that when I wanna fight to make sure that we have the best platform that we possibly can, that we win the most delegates that we can and that we transform — the goal of our campaign was to transform this nation,” he said.
“What I am trying to do right now is to make sure that the Democratic Party becomes the party that represents working people, not Wall Street, that is prepared to have an agenda that speaks to the need of creating millions of jobs, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, dealing with climate change, dealing with pay equity,” he continued. “Those are the issues that we need to have not only in the platform, but we need Democratic leadership to be implemented.”
Sanders also pushed back on the notion that his refusal to suspend his campaign is harming Clinton’s general election campaign and her ability to unite the party.
“You talk about disunity. I talk about involving the American people in the political process and wanting to have a government and a party that works for all of us,” Sanders said. “What we want is a government that represents all of us and that’s what I intend to fight for.”
The Vermont senator in recent weeks has signaled the end of his campaign, while outlining his list of demands. In an op-ed published Thursday in the Washington Post, Sanders detailed what his campaign will continue to fight for, and what his supporters want, as his candidacy winds down.
And he conceded during a lengthy interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday, “It doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee.”