Faced with an increasingly narrow path to winning the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has begun to sketch out what it will take for Hillary Clinton to win his support in November — and, presumably, that of the roughly 7 million people who have voted for him.
While the senator is adamant his campaign will press on until the June 7 primary in California, he appears at least willing to entertain the idea he won’t be the Democratic standard-bearer after his crushing, double-digit loss last week in the New York primary.
And he’s begun to outline what the former Secretary of State would have to do to win his backing.
“That is totally dependent on what the Clinton platform is and how she responds to the needs of millions of Americans who are sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics,” he said Sunday during an interview on ABC’s This Week.
Sanders said he would “do everything that I can to make sure that somebody like a Donald Trump or some other right-wing Republican does not become president of the United States.”
At the same time, he added that if Clinton is the nominee, “she is going to have to make the case to the American people, not just to my supporters, but all Americans, that she is prepared to stand up to the billionaire class, she is prepared to fight for health care for all Americans, that she is prepared to pass paid family and medical leave, make sure that college is affordable for the young people in this country. That is what she has got to do. And I hope, if she is the nominee, that she does that well,” he said.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, host John Dickerson asked the 74-year-old senator if he doesn’t win enough delegates would he want to see Clinton come out for a $15 national minimum wage, reinstating Glass-Steagall and coming out forcefully against fracking?
“John, that was a very good start. You're doing well. Keep going,” Sanders joked, before again suggesting a platform that addresses a “Medicare-for-all health care program” and making public college and universities tuition-free.
“I hope that if I do not win the nomination, that that will be part of Clinton's agenda,” Sanders said.
The possible demands aren’t exactly surprising, given Sanders’ laser-like focus on economic inequality. The hinted requests come at a time when the Vermont lawmaker, who began his dark horse candidacy roughly a year ago, is at something of a crossroads.
Despite winning more than a dozen states, he faces a steep climb to catch up with Clinton in the race for delegates. His campaign has launched increasingly shrill attacks on Clinton, and many Democrats are worried that the critiques could harm her in the general election. They argue it would be much better, for Sanders and for the party, if he were to fold up his campaign tent and back Clinton, uniting Democrats well ahead of the election.
Tuesday could tip the scales one way or the other. Five states will hold their primaries, and public opinion polls show the former First Lady leading in all five.
If Clinton sweeps on Tuesday, expect Sanders’ wish list to go from being sketched out in pencil to being drawn in permanent ink very quickly.