Bernie Sanders so far refuses to give up his fight for the White House. But in yet another sign that his campaign for president has stalled out, one of the Vermont senator’s most loyal and prominent backers has announced his support for Hillary Clinton.
Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and the first member of Congress to endorse Sanders, explained his reasoning in a statement:
With voting completed in the final Democratic Primary, it is now time for the Democratic Party to unify. For all of us who supported Bernie from the beginning, whether we considered ourselves progressives or independents or just Americans tired of being on the outside looking in, the most important thing now is to beat Donald Trump in November. To use a word that’s been thrown around a lot lately, now is the time to unify. […]
Hillary Clinton has the capacity and the instincts needed to carry forward what has been started. I support her and will do what I can to help ensure her victory. I firmly believe that her victory will only come when she and the Democratic Party articulate the themes this movement [created by the Sanders campaign] has so powerfully expressed.
That’s an excerpt from a much longer set of remarks from the representative, reported by NBC News’ Danny Freeman on Twitter. The declaration attempts to walk a very fine line. It emphasizes that the ideals and promises at the heart of Sanders’s campaign have widespread support and must be taken seriously by the next president, while at the same time conceding that the next president will not, in fact, be Sanders.
Many Sanders supporters, resigned to the fact that it now looks impossible for their candidate to win the White House, must settle for the next best alternative and hope that Clinton will champion the causes near and dear to the senator. It would be overly simplistic to describe Grijalva’s remarks as a defection. Even in shifting support to Clinton, he wants to push her to embrace the Sanders agenda. “It won’t be enough to just accept the merit of his ideas,”Grijalva said. “This is in no small part Bernie Sanders’ party also. His team, his supporters and his movement must—and will—be integrated into the future of the Democratic Party at every level.” He warned: “Unity will not be realized if the millions of voters who supported Bernie Sanders feel taken for granted.”