The endorsement could be particularly helpful for Clinton at this moment in the race. She clearly wants to turn her attention to the general election, but must also convince the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to support her against Donald Trump. Warren’s stature as a progressive icon may help Clinton win over skeptical voters on the left.
Yet the news is sure to upset Sanders supporters. Since Sanders remains in the race, any indication that Warren plans to stand with Clinton will inevitably be perceived as a snub of Sanders by his devoted supporters, no matter how implausible the odds that he could still win the nomination. That, in turn, could hurt Warren’s credibility with some die-hard progressives, though the fallout may be less intense if she waits until Sanders has exited the race before formally making her endorsement.
On the other hand, the news may persuade even some Sanders supporters that it’s time to give up the fight. Despite holding off on an endorsement, Warren has gone out of her way to praise the Vermont senator and defend his presence in the race. “He has put the right issues on the table both for the Democratic Party and for the country in general so I’m still cheering Bernie on,” Warren said in March when asked if Sanders should consider dropping out. The words of encouragement will make it harder for disenchanted voters to claim Warren favored Clinton all along.
According to Reuters, Warren is motivated by concern for “how best to help the Democratic Party defeat … [Trump] and advance issues such as income inequality, which top Warren’s agenda.” In recent weeks, Warren has not hesitated to attack Trump aggressively, taking to Twitter time and time again to denounce the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee. Her attacks have fueled speculation that the senator might be interested in joining the Democratic ticket.
Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat, has reportedly been quietly advocating for Warren as a potential vice presidential pick. The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday evening that while Warren is “intrigued by the possibility that she could be picked as Clinton’s vice president ... she is not sure that the move would make sense for her.”
If Warren wants the option to become a vice-presidential pick, an endorsement is likely a prerequisite for her to receive any kind of offer from the Clinton campaign. Of course, there are plenty of potential downsides for Warren if she were to become Clinton’s VP. If Warren leaves the senate, she risks giving up the power and influence she has now. It’s possible, though, that moving to the White House could allow her to hold even more sway over the party than she currently has.
Some Democrats have expressed anxiety that a prolonged primary battle could be destructive to the party. If these reports are true, it shows that unity may not be so difficult to achieve after all. Clinton is getting Democrats to coalesce behind her. As a candidate, Clinton benefited from significant institutional support within the party early on and throughout the race. Now, it looks like she is poised to win endorsements from the holdouts as well.