WASHINGTON (JTA) — Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president and said he would work with her to keep Donald Trump from being elected.
“I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton …” Sanders said Tuesday at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before being interrupted by a surge of cheers, then concluding “and why she must become our next president.”
Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont and the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests, attacked Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, while lauding Clinton.
“While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” he said.
Trump, meantime, blasted Sanders on Twitter for betraying his followers.
“Bernie Sanders, who has lost most of his leverage, has totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton,” Trump said.
The Sanders campaign replied, referring to Trump’s offering to debate Sanders last month, then retreating from the pledge.
“Big talk from the same guy who was too afraid to debate Bernie in California,” the Sanders tweet said.
Sanders had mounted an unexpectedly strong campaign against Clinton, the former secretary of state and the establishment favorite. He won overwhelmingly in New Hampshire, one of the early nominating states.
The campaign at times turned bitter, but Clinton, accepting Sanders’ endorsement at the rally, contrasted it with the Republican primaries, where Trump often belittled his opponents.
“I was proud of the campaign we ran, it was a campaign about issues, not insults,” she said.
Sanders in his endorsement speech said Clinton and the party had moved toward the left because of his campaign. The media declared Clinton the winner in early June, and she won the needed number of delegates shortly after for the nomination, but Sanders withheld his endorsement until he extracted concessions from her on the party platform.
“I am happy to tell you that 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,” he said at the New Hampshire rally.
Clinton in her speech acknowledged as much, embracing themes Sanders hammered home, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and reforming campaign finance. She allowed a self-deprecating reference to Sanders’ oft-repeated claim during the primaries that the average donation to his campaign was $27, contrasted with the huge donations Clinton solicited from the corporate world.
“We accept $27 donations, too, you know,” she said, urging voters to head to her website and earning a hearty laugh from Sanders.
Not mentioned were the candidates’ foreign policy differences, including Clinton’s rejection through the Platform Committee of Sanders’ bid to introduce critical language that would have labeled Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an “occupation.”