Clinton Supporters Say the Time Is Near for Sanders to Get Behind Likely Nominee
Hillary Clinton supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated that Bernie Sanders has become more combative and critical of Democrats in the runup to the California primary, including his refusal to get out of the race before all of the 2016's state nominating contests end.
That was one of the takeaways when talking to attendees and volunteers at Hillary Clinton’s rally in San Jose late last week, where almost all agreed that they share many common goals—although Clinton's proposals are more incremental toward achieving them.
“It’s only in the last few days,” said Carol Adamski, who lives in this diverse city that is a hub for Silicon Valley and also has a big Latino community. “His calling for [DNC chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation. He said Hillary was the lesser of two evils. And he would go ahead and debate Trump.”
“I think that’s what happens when you get in front of so many crowds and you start to believe it,” Adamski continued, referring to Sanders' large rallies and insistence that he will emerge as the Democratic nominee. “Her surrogates need to come on more strongly and say, Look, Bernie. You lost. Get out. Support our candidacy."
As the nominating season heads toward its finish in mid-June, there have been many questions about whether and how the Democratic Party will unite against Donald Trump. Indeed, on Friday, Sanders' campaign lawyer sent a letter to the DNC formally asking that platform committee co-chair Gov. Dannel Malloy, D-CN, and rules committee co-chair ex-Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, be replaced because of their antagonistic comments about Sanders and his backers.
Many Sanders supporters have warned they will not back Clinton should she became the nominee—although that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the views of Clinton supporters toward Sanders' followers have generally been more muted, partly because many are older and more politically seasoned.
“We need those people to switch over,” said Ron Friedenthal, a retiree from nearby Los Altos. “I remember that age. I worked for Eugene McCarthy [in 1968]. I feel Bernie has tapped into what we felt 45 years ago.”â€¨ He continued, “Bernie has to be helpful in this. But I don’t think he’s going to do it... I hope he migrates toward Hillary. We are right at the tipping point.”
Adamski and Friedenthal were typical of older supporters who waited for hours on Thursday at San Jose’s tech museum to see Clinton. They said they wished she would hold more events like the one they were attending, especially on college campuses. They weren’t angry at Sanders for continuing to campaign, just concerned he was misleading supporters into believing he can emerge as the nominee. To do that, he would need to win California by much bigger margins than the latest statewide poll, which placed him 2 points behind Clinton.
“I think it is the Bernie attitude of ‘We’re the best’ that’s got me more motivated to be active in the California campaign,” said Ruth Vranas, an engineer and technology executive, who said she was hopeful Sanders supporters would eventually come around. “When I canvass and talk to his supporters, they say they will be with her in November.”
Vranas made several points about the differences between the two campaigns and Sanders’ future influence in Democratic circles.
“Fairness is the not the same as equality,” she said, saying that Sanders typically tells supporters that entire systems or public benefits can be changed or increased, while Clinton typically is more focused on targeting the neediest. Social Security is one example. Sanders wants to raise retirement benefits for everyone, while Clinton wants to raise them first for single women, widows and communities of color. Clinton’s proposals, Vranas said, are fairer and more achievable.
Sanders also needs a Democrat in the White House and a Senate majority to be influential, she added, saying that should motivate him to get behind Clinton.
“He’s said that he would do everything in is power to keep Trump out of office, and said that Hillary is a whole lot better than any Republican,” Vranas said. “Well, we should unite to be more focused on raising the minimum wage, on pushing for more equality, on taking money out of politics. The things that are important to him can only get accomplished by supporting the Democratic candidate for president and having a Democrat in the White House.”
Like the others, she hoped Sanders would soon start a new conversation with his voters.
“He needs to tell his supporters that he will continue his fight for the things that riled up up his supporters, but these causes all will be lost under a Republican administration,” she said. “He still has a lot of supporters who think he has a chance of being the nominee. He needs to tell them he will continue the fight.”
But that is not likely to happen before June 7 when Democratic primaries are held in California and New Jersey, where Clinton is expected to announce she has won the nomination.