Sanders Fighting to End of Primary; “Can’t Snap” Fingers & Tell Supporters to Back Clinton

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

I don’t want this point to get lost. It was made in a longer piece I recently did, but it’s important as a stand-alone.

After the New York primary, Bernie Sanders took a day off and appeared, to me at least, to take a moment to get his feet back under him (I like the athlete metaphor since he is one). Then he came back strong with these two messages:

  • I’m fighting until the last vote is cast (so don’t keep asking me).
  • I’ll back Clinton if she’s the nominee, but she has to earn my supporters on her own.

We heard them again on the recent MSNBC Town Hall. Jane Sanders said the same thing here. His press release after the April 26 voting said exactly the same thing as well.

I think these will be his last words through the last contest in June, and I think we can count on him to stick to them. After that, the convention (what I’ve been calling the “crossroad in Philadelphia”) will be what it is, based on the landscape in July. (For thoughts on that landscape, see here.)

Watch the Sanders interview with George Stephanopoulos above for the direct account. Yahoo News on that interview (my emphasis):

Following Bernie Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the New York primary last week, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, vowed that the Vermont senator would take his fight to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July.

But on Sunday, Sanders would only look as far ahead as California’s Democratic primary on June 7.

From an edited transcript (emphasis original):

Stephanopoulos: If the contest doesn’t go the way you hope, will you be able to follow the Clinton model of 2008, which she talked about on this “GMA” town hall this week, and make an enthusiastic case for her the way she pushed for President Obama?

Sanders: That is totally dependent on what the Clinton platform is and how she responds to the needs of millions of Americans who are sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics.

I can’t snap my finger and tell people what to do. What I will do, is do everything I can to make sure that somebody like a Donald Trump, or some other right-wing Republican, does not become the president of the United States. We don’t need more tax breaks for billionaires, more cuts to Social Security and Medicare, more ignoring the fact — Republicans don’t accept the reality of climate change, let alone being prepared to do something about it.

So I will do everything that I can to defeat any Republican candidate. If Secretary Clinton is the nominee, she will have to make the case to the American people, not just to my supporters but all Americans, that she is prepared to stand up to the billionaire class….

I hope you noticed his emphasis of my second bulleted point —  “[Making an ‘enthusiastic case for her’] is totally dependent on what the Clinton platform is and how she responds to the needs of millions of Americans … I can’t snap my finger and tell people what to do. … If Secretary Clinton is the nominee, she will have to make the case to the American people, not just to my supporters but all Americans, that she is prepared to stand up to the billionaire class…”

Thus the battle continues, with Peter Daou saying on behalf of the Clinton camp that it’s time for the mountain to come to Mohammad instead. Thus the battle continues. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current Clinton third-quarter surge didn’t go to their hubristic heads. If so, that won’t work out as they want it to, I think, as the delegate game enters the fourth, pre-Philadelphia, quarter.

One step at a time is the smartest way to play this. No one can suss the situation in Philadelphia until we get there.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you’d like to help out, go here. If you’d like to “phone-bank for Bernie,” go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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  • unheilig

    Am I the only one with a bad feeling about this? HRC’s showing all the classic symptoms of megalomania and no understanding whatsoever that she’ll need to do far more to win the Bernies over than just throw them a bone.

  • Mr Boompi

    I’ll always support Bernie. And when Clinton wins the nomination, I’ll support Trump. And if they steal the nomination from him, I’ll write in Jill Stein. And the people who own and run the US government will just laugh at me like every other time I voted in this fake democracy.

  • ClubToTheHead

    Hillary stayed in until the end against Obama, discounting its futility by recalling the June 5, 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

    Hillary should be reminded, just as she reminded others, of her 2008 campaign’s terminal hope.

    Hope springs eternal from her opponent’s grave.

  • kimyo

    the man is simply not worthy. stop pretending. read and weep: (and then move on from your sanders fantasy) FULL TRANSCRIPT: MSNBC Town Hall with Bernie Sanders moderated by Chris Hayes

    HAYES: The current authorization which you cite in what Miguel just quoted which is the authorization to use military force after 9/11. That has led to the kill list. This President — literally, there is a kill list. There is a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill, and it goes about doing it. Would you keep the kill list as President of the United States?

    SANDERS: Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves. I think as Miguel said, though, it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way.

    HAYES: Do you think what’s being done now is constitutional and legal?

    SANDERS: In general I do, yes.

    HAYES: One more question — the announcement today that the U.S. is going to send 250 Special Forces operators on the ground in Syria. Do you agree with that? Do you think that’s permissible, given the fact that there has not been an authorization?

    SANDERS: I think the — look. Here’s the bottom line. ISIS has got to be destroyed, and the way that ISIS must be destroyed is not through American troops fighting on the ground. ISIS must be destroyed and King Abdullah of Jordan has made this clear, that the war is for the soul of Islam and it must be won by the Muslim nations themselves.

    I think what the President is talking about is having American troops training Muslim troops, helping to supply the military equipment they need, and I do support that effort.

    • diogenes

      Kimyo, it’s obvious that the Wall Street puppet show fake two party system will NEVER let Bernie win. The value of his campaign, such as it is, is wholly educational. Why don’t you focus on the positive points that he is speaking up for — unlike any other presidential candidate in our lifetimes and well before? What’s the point of sniping at him? Surely you aren’t a Hillary supporter? In can’t believe you’re that deluded. What’s up with this?

      • kimyo

        rather than advance the conversation, sanders has repeatedly blocked discussion of key issues. ex: he says ‘everyone’s tired of hearing about your emails’ when he should have been saying ‘you appear to be guilty of multiple felonies’.

        he’s not educating anyone, he’s standing in the way, serving the current apparatus. $15/hour by 2020 is still poverty, even if you’re lucky enough to have full time work. who benefits from free college? (hint: they’ve been collecting six figure salaries for the last decade+) it’s surely not the students (just look back at the millions of unused degrees awarded over the last 10 years).

        how can you respect anyone who supports putting u.s. boots on the ground in syria? who fails to comprehend that illegal wars of aggression and extra-judicial death by drone do NOT make us safer?

        (if you reply, how ’bout you not mention hillary or trump? tell me why sanders deserves my ear, on his own merit, rather than because he’s less worse than the others)