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The signs heralding Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton read “Stronger Together” — but the ‘together” only came after a bruising campaign and intense party platform wrangling. Gwen Ifill talks with Sanders supporter, former Ohio state senator Nina Turner; and former Vermont Gov. and presidential candidate Howard Dean, a Clinton backer.
After winning 13 million votes, 22 states, and raising $200 million, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders formally stepped aside today, throwing his weight to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Then, both turned their focus to Donald Trump. It was everywhere, emblazoned on the campaign stage and all of the signs, "Stronger Together," the Clinton campaign motto.
But, today, it took on an unmistakably altered meaning, as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton joined forces for the first time.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), Vermont: I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
The announcement came in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the state that handed Sanders his first Democratic primary victory, and set up the protracted battle for the party's nomination.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:
It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. At the Democratic platform committee, which ended Sunday night in Orlando, 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.
Sanders didn't get all he wanted in the proposed platform, but now it does include a plank calling for tougher regulations on Wall Street, language supporting a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, and stronger words on climate change.
Today, Sanders called Clinton far and away the best candidate in November. Clinton, in turn, appealed to his supporters.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), Presumptive Presidential Nominee: I'm asking you to keep working in the weeks, months, and, yes, years ahead. You will always have a seat at the table when I am in the White House.
The event also allowed the former rivals to form a united front against a common foe, Republican nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump.
While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, and Muslims, and women, and African-Americans and our veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.
Trump and his cronies are trying to pull the wool over our eyes and come back with the same failed policies that hurt us before.
In response, the Trump campaign fired off press release after press release, many of them contrasting Sanders' past statements about Clinton with his endorsement today.
One Trump attack took aim at Clinton for the former secretary of state's past involvement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade deal that Sanders strongly opposes. Clinton repeated today that she now opposes the TPP as well. Still to come: details on Sanders' role at the party's upcoming convention and in the fall campaign.
Will the Sanders supporters get on board?
We look at that road ahead for Democrats with Sanders supporter and former Ohio state senator Nina Turner and former six-term Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean, a Clinton supporter.
So, Governor Dean, does an endorsement like that — you have been here. You have been on the campaign trail. You have conceded before. Does an endorsement like that matter?
FORMER GOV. HOWARD DEAN, (D), Vermont: It does matter. It's actually harder for the supporters to get on board than it is the candidate.
But the candidate leads the way, and this is a big deal.
Nina Turner, a lot of Sanders supporters, maybe not in that room, have been saying that Sanders sold out. What are you telling them?
NINA TURNER, (D), Former Ohio State Senator: Well, Gwen, the senator has made clear from the beginning that he was going to do everything necessary he could to defeat Mr. Trump.
And part of that promise that he has made begins today. And I do agree with the governor. It is definitely hard for supporters, and probably harder than the candidate. And, yes, all over Twitter, all over my direct messages, texts, phone calls, there are people who support the senator who are very disappointed.
There has to be a grieving process, some space for Senator Sanders supporters to kind of digest this, because his supporters, people like me and others, never wanted this day to come. We have always wanted Senator Sanders to be that nominee. And, so, yes, there is a lot of hurting going on out there.
So, Howard Dean, what happens? How do you bring that hurting to a point which helps the actual presumptive nominee?
FORMER GOV. HOWARD DEAN:
Well, actually, some of it has already been done.
The platform — really, Bernie had a huge influence on the platform. So, from an issues point of view, most of the Sanders supporters have gotten most of what they want. That is going to help a lot.
Second of all, Bernie is going to do some vigorous campaigning because this platform is a platform that Bernie likes. And so, over time, I think these wounds do heal. I think not only did most of my supporters support John Kerry enthusiastically. A lot of my staff went to work for John Kerry. And it was tough.
It was a bitter primary, just as this one has been. But, look, you have got to do what's right for the country in the end. And what's right is Hillary Clinton and what's wrong for the country is Donald Trump.
But, Governor Dean, let me ask you this. Hillary Clinton in 2008 decided to concede one week after Barack Obama clinched the nomination. This took a little longer. Did Senator Sanders take too long to endorse?
Absolutely not. Everybody has to do this at their own pace and with their own supporters in mind.
I think Bernie — because Bernie had such an influence on the platform, I think that's enormously helpful. He needed that extra time. The platform changed, more concessions than I think most would have expected. I think that is going to help bring his supporters on board. And we need them.
Nina Turner, did the platform change enough for you, and does it matter what the Democratic platform is if the words are different coming out of the candidate's mouth?
Well, it certainly changed. But for Senator Sanders continuing to push, we wouldn't have the $15 minimum wage for federal, that being affirmed in the platform, abolishing the death penalty, moving marijuana, for example, off of the federal Schedule 1.
So, Senator Sanders and his supporters have a lot to be proud of. But in terms of the TPP, of course, we are disappointed. Senator Sanders — and I was there in Orlando. I was one of the platform committee members, and we fought vigorously to get the Democratic Party to say that they'd oppose any vote on the TPP in the lame-duck session, but that didn't happen.
But let me ask you…
So, we still have much more work to do, Gwen. We really do.
And it doesn't — the senator always said that this wasn't about him, it's about us. And so there has to be folks out there like myself and others who will make sure, to your point, that that platform is not just something that's wonderful words on a sheet of paper, that if a Democrat wins, that that platform is executed through policy.
But, as you point out, yes, you were on the platform committee. And we heard Hillary Clinton say, with great force, that she opposes the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
So, why isn't that enough? Why does it matter whether it's in the platform? Doesn't it matter what the candidate says?
Well, it needs to be in there because that is something that we affirm, and we affirm it very strongly. And if both candidates made it clear that they oppose it, Senator Sanders had the opportunity to push the secretary further left on that, then it shouldn't have been any problem with the platform committee members of both candidates voting to make sure that the TPP wasn't voted on in the lame-duck.
But that didn't happen, unfortunately. But, Gwen, it gives us something more to continue to fight for. Again, to Senator Sanders supporters, I want to say that this is not the end, it is the beginning. And the revolution, the political revolution that he has started must continue, because we have to hold people accountable to the platform, because a lot of people out there, Gwen, are concerned that the platform is just that, just pretty words on a piece of paper.
Although, in fairness, there was a third problem, a third party at the table with the TPP, and that was President Obama.
And it would have been incredibly unusual to have a very successful president, which President Obama has been, rebuked by the Democratic Party platform. And I think that was why the TPP wasn't in the platform. It would have been seen as a rebuke to the president of the United States, who's done, I think, a great job.
He's done a tremendous job, but I don't necessarily consider — I don't agree with the governor on that.
But, yes, the president has done a great job, but people in the same family can disagree.
Well, let me ask you about disagreeing in the family. You, Nina Turner, have been on the record calling for perhaps a third party. Is that off the table now?
Well, I think that both parties could certainly benefit from having another party challenge — challenge us to do better.
I am a Democrat. I have been a lifelong Democrat, but I'm not just a Democrat to be a Democrat. I am a Democrat because of the principles and the values that we uphold, and if we are the strongest party, then we shouldn't fear other competition.
Howard Dean, what, in the end — you have known Bernie Sanders for a long time. You're from the same state. You both have run for president. And I'm certain that you have been watching this all very closely.
What did he ultimately bring to this campaign?
Bernie Sanders in some ways was more of a mover in this campaign than anybody else.
The core issue — and we have seen it all over the world — and the British just had a very unfortunate vote — where people left behind by globalization are lashing out. And Bernie crystallized that and talked about the issues that we have to fix if globalization is going to work and if our country is going to be strong.
We have to help the people who have been left behind. We have to have better schools, better educational opportunities, better inclusion, better support of working people who aren't benefiting from globalization, better tax rules that aid creation of jobs than — more so than creating opportunities to shift paper around on Wall Street.
Those are the things that Bernie brought to the table, and those are in the platform. I think he's transformed the Democratic Party and I think he's done it in a very positive way.
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, thank you both very much.
Thank you, Gwen.
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