The wait for Bernie Sanders to finally endorse presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton may be nearing an end — if United States Vice President Joseph Biden is correct. Biden says he has spoken to the candidate who was defeated by Clinton, and received assurances that the official endorsement would be coming — soon.
But exactly when that big moment will arrive, neither Biden nor Sanders was willing to say.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 1, 2016
The Democratic National Convention opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 25. Democratic officials have said that the Vermont senator must officially end his campaign — another move he has not yet made — and endorse Clinton if he hopes to speak, at least in a primetime slot, at the convention.
But Biden now says that Democrats have nothing to worry about from Sanders.
“I’ve talked to Bernie. Bernie’s going to endorse her. This is going to work out,” Biden told a National Public Radio interviewer Thursday, though the full interview will not air on NPR until Sunday.
“The Democrats are coalescing even before this occurs,” Biden added.
A poll released last week by the Washington Post and ABC News shows that Biden is correct about Democrats rallying around Clinton, even without an endorsement from Bernie Sanders.
The poll showed that only 8 percent of Sanders supporters would vote for Republican Donald Trump, presumably as a protest against the nomination of Clinton, down from 20 percent, with 81 percent of Sanders supporters pledging support for Clinton in her race for the presidency. That number is considerably more than the number of Hillary Clinton supporters in the 2008 campaign — in which Clinton lost the Democratic primary to then-Senator Barack Obama — who said they would vote for that year’s nominee for the election battle against McCain.
Democrats and other political experts have assumed that an endorsement by Bernie Sanders was required to bring Sanders followers into the fold for the election battle against Trump. But so far, Sanders has said only that he will “likely” vote for Clinton as a way to prevent Trump from becoming president — but he has declined to offer an unreserved endorsement.
Watch Bernie Sanders state his intention to vote for Hillary Clinton in the following MSNBC video.
At the same time, some political experts now say that Sanders has waited too long, and that he has “overplayed his hand,” to the point where his endorsement of Clinton no longer makes any difference.
“Sanders’ endorsement isn’t irrelevant, but it now carries less weight, and the leverage he held at the end of the primary just isn’t there anymore,” wrote Jamelle Bouie, political writer for the online Slate magazine.
“He’ll still matter to the shape and direction of the Democratic National Convention, but he could have had a larger, more visible role. Bernie Sanders had his shot, and he threw it away,” Bouie wrote.
Nonetheless, asked on Thursday by MSNBC host Chris Hayes whether Biden was telling the truth about his coming endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Sanders neither confirmed nor denied the report from the vice president.
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) July 1, 2016
“I talked to Joe, I think it was three weeks ago,” Sanders told Hayes. “Look, on that issue [i.e the endorsement] we are trying to work with Secretary Clinton’s campaign on areas that we can agree.”
Sanders then listed a number of issues on which he hopes to elicit agreement from Clinton, such as tuition-free college and single-payer health care, saying that he was waiting to discuss those issues further with her before issuing his official endorsement of the nominee.
“I hope it happens,” Sanders said. “As of this moment, we’re not there quite yet.”
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However, top Democrats were showing signs of irritation this week with the continued refusal to endorse the party’s own nominee by Bernie Sanders.
“So far he has been riding a wave of good feelings in the sense he ran an incredible campaign,” said former North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, whose time in the Senate overlapped with both Sanders and Clinton, who was a New York senator from 2001 through 2009.
“That has a pretty short shelf life and then people start looking at you through a different lens, and that lens is: Are you a team player and do you have the larger picture in mind or are you just focused on yourself?” Conrad said. “At some point, pretty soon, he crosses the threshold. He may have already crossed it.”
Of all the top Democrats, Joe Biden has been among those displaying the greatest acceptance of Bernie Sanders and his refusal to end his campaign and endorse Hillary Clinton, saying earlier in June, “I think we should be a little graceful and give him the opportunity to decide on his own.”
[Featured Photos By Spencer Platt / Ethan Miller /Getty Images]