Bernie Sanders has endorsed his former rival Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Appearing alongside Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire, the Vermont Senator said: “I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 12, 2016
The two have been in talks since June, when Clinton amassed the required number of delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination. But Sanders, until now, had resisted making a public declaration of his support for the Secretary of State.
The endorsement paves the way for a unified Democratic leadership approaching the party’s convention held later this month in Philadelphia. Some party officials had previously expressed concern that an endorsement might never come, or that Sanders might even run as a third-party candidate.
The challenge for Clinton now lies in winning over the 12m people who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primaries. According to a poll released last week, around 85 per cent of those who did vote for Sanders in the primaries would vote for Clinton in the general election.
Clinton hopes Sanders’ endorsement will broaden her appeal to the liberal left of the party he represented, enlarging her support base. However, the fierce battle of rhetoric between the two candidates in the past means that some might take longer to come round.
In a fiery exchange in April this year, Sanders labeled Clinton “unqualified” for the presidency, saying: “She has been saying lately that she think that I am quote unquote, not qualified to be president. I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, through her ‘super PAC,’ taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds.”
Both Sanders and Clinton will want to distance themselves from such rhetoric now; unified against the “common enemy”, Donald Trump.
Trump was quick to criticise Sanders, accusing him of “selling out.”
I am somewhat surprised that Bernie Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters. They are not happy that he is selling out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2016
It is now all but confirmed that Clinton will face Trump in the general election in November.