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Bernie Sanders, speaking in a major Monday-night address to the Democratic National Convention, said he would “do everything” to get Hillary Clinton elected president.
The Vermont senator’s speech came as leaders aimed to quell remaining divisions within the Democratic Party. Thanking the audience in Philadelphia, which gave him a booming cheer as he took the stage, Sanders acknowledged that he knew that “many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed” about how the primary election turned out.
“I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am,” he said. “But to all of our supporters – here and around the country – I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.”
Sanders, who became an icon for the progressive cause during the heated Democratic primary, said the “political revolution” continued even as his hopes of winning the presidency were dashed.
“Election days come and go,” he said. “But the struggle of the people 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 – that struggle continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.”
Sanders said the election was “not about, and has never been about,” him, Clinton, or Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“This election is not about political gossip,” he continued. “It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fund-raising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing. This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.”
Sanders went through the core issues of his campaign, including poverty, income inequality, and further regulation of Wall Street institutions.
In a shot at Trump, the avowed Democratic socialist also mentioned that US leadership could not be made up of people who insult Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans, and veterans.
“This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, fearmongering, name-calling, and divisiveness,” he said.
To that extent, the decision “is not even close,” he added.
“By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” Sanders continued. “The choice is not even close.”
The senator said Clinton and him saw eye to eye on needing to deal with rising income inequality and on making an increased investment in infrastructure, among other things.
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“If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights, and the future of our country,” he said.
Sanders also praised a recent proposal from Clinton regarding making college more affordable, contrasting her position with Trump’s on healthcare and the environment.
“Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Hillary Clinton presidency,” Sanders said. “And I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”
Sanders spoke of knowing Clinton for nearly three decades, first as a “great” first lady who bolstered the role of the job while pushing for healthcare reform and then as a senator where, he said, they fought for the rights of children.
But the senator acknowledged that his views did not align with Clinton’s on everything.
“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” he said. “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 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.”
In what he described as “stressful times” for the US, Clinton is the clear choice, he ultimately argued.
Sanders concluded: “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.”