Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met Tuesday evening to try to start healing wounds from their long, bitter primary battle.
The summit between the two came the same night Clinton won the final contest of the cycle, easily notching a 57-point victory over Sanders in the District of Columbia’s Democratic primary.
A week ago Clinton clinched enough delegates to become her party’s presumptive nominee, thanks to a mix of pledged delegates and superdelegates, though she won a large majority of pledged delegates and beat Sanders in the popular vote by more than 3 million votes.
Nonetheless, Sanders has soldiered on, even after a loss last week in California, and has given no indication he intends to step aside and endorse Clinton anytime soon. That’s a troubling sign to many in the party who want a united front against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump sooner rather than later.
A Clinton campaign official said that the 90-minute-long meeting at the Capital Hilton was a “positive discussion about their primary campaign,” which may be the first encouraging step for Democrats as the two try to find some closure — or at least common ground — before next month’s convention in Philadelphia.
According to both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, the two congratulated each other on their primary runs and talked about how they could unify the party against “the dangerous threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation.”
“The two discussed a variety of issues where they are seeking common ground: substantially raising the minimum wage; real campaign finance reform; making health care universal and accessible; making college affordable and reducing student debt,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement. “Sanders and Clinton agreed to continue working to develop a progressive agenda that addresses the needs of working families and the middle class and adopting a progressive platform for the Democratic National Convention.”
Jane Sanders, the candidate’s wife, also attended the meeting, along with his campaign manager Jeff Weaver. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook were also present.
Even though the primary in the nation’s capital marked the official end of voting in the long race, Sanders’ campaign has maintained he will take his fight all the way to next month’s convention, and will try to woo superdelegates to his side. But Sanders also has reiterated in recent days that he will do whatever it takes to stop Trump from winning. The readout from Tuesday’s meeting between the Democratic candidates underscores that.
Sanders also announced he will address his supporters Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET via livestream, where he may reveal more concrete next steps.
Sanders wrote to supporters earlier on Tuesday that even after the voting is done, “our political revolution continues,” and that his primary campaign has “sent the establishment a message they can’t ignore: We won’t settle for the status quo.” At a press conference earlier on Tuesday, he called for DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be replaced, and for superdelegates to be taken out of the party’s primary equation.
In a statement from the Democratic National Committee after the D.C. results, Wasserman Schultz did not refer to Clinton as the party’s presumptive nominee, simply saying that, “At our convention in July, we’re going to nominate a qualified, capable candidate who will build on the hard-won progress of the last seven years.”