We haven’t heard much from Bernie Sanders over the last week or so.
Not that it’s much of a surprise. The primaries are over and the presumptive nominees for each party have been decided, so much of the media, and the general public have moved on to the Clinton/Trump match-up.
Despite the shift in focus towards November, Sanders has, to this point, refused to drop out of the race. Instead he is seeking to use the leverage he gained by building a large, loyal following during the primary campaign, to extract some concessions from Hillary Clinton and the DNC on the party platform and the nominating process.
It is tough to determine what this speech will be about. Many thought Sanders was going to drop out the night he lost California on June 7; but he vowed to stay in the race through the DC Primary a week later on the 14th.
The second “Is Sanders dropping out?” moment came just two days later when he addressed his supporters via video. He, again, didn’t bow out; instead saying he would take his issues to the convention. A change in tone surely, but not a concession or an endorsement.
So is tomorrow night it? Is this when Sanders finally leaves the race and endorses Hillary Clinton?
He did tell C-SPAN in an interview set to air today “It doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee, so I’m not going to determine the scope of the convention,” when he was asked if he would speak at the party’s convention next month. “I’ve given a few speeches in my life. It would be nice to speak at the Democratic National Convention. If for whatever reason they don’t want me to speak, then whatever. But I do think I’ll speak at the convention.”
Even this is a toned down message from before. Up until now, Sanders would always say he had “an uphill climb,” etc. This is the first time he has said in no uncertain terms that he will not win the nomination.
The Clinton Campaign would sure like tomorrow to be the day. While Clinton has coalesced a lot of the party leadership around her, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Sanders backers Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva; she still has some work to do among Sanders’ backers.
A Bloomberg Poll released on June 14 showed Clinton receiving the backing of only 55% of Sanders supporters. Donald Trump, amazingly, received 22% and Gary Johnson got 18%. While the same poll did show Clinton with a 12-point lead over Trump, she is going to need more Bernie people behind her than she is currently getting.
She will never get them all, but a full-throated endorsement from Sanders will obviously help.
Sanders did say in the C-SPAN interview his campaign is negotiating with the Clinton campaign almost everyday, adding “we want Secretary Clinton to stake out the strongest positions she can on campaign finance reform, on health care, on education — especially higher education — on the economy, on the minimum wage,”
Maybe some agreement or understanding has been reached on superdelegates, the party platform, or one of the policies Sanders brought up.
Or maybe this is just Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown again. This could just as easily be Sanders’ way of reminding everyone that while is leverage has diminished some, he will still be a factor when it comes to the party’s chances of winning in November.