Sanders Scores a Big Victory in His Battle With Clinton
Policy + Politics

Sanders Scores a Big Victory in His Battle With Clinton

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Consider it the first of what could be many olive branches offered by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to Bernie Sanders.

The Washington Post reports that party officials and frontrunner Clinton have struck a deal with Sanders that allows the Vermont senator to name one-third of the panel that writes the party’s platform.

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Sanders has picked five people for the 15-member national convention drafting committee, while Clinton has named six. DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz will pick the remaining four.

What makes the change so significant is that current DNC rules empower the party chair pick the entire slate of 15 for the committee, which will draft the platform for the party convention in July.

Allowing Sanders to appoint such a large portion of the committee can be viewed as a peace offering between party officials and the democratic-socialist, who has waged an increasingly bitter primary campaign against the former secretary of state and vowed to take his political “revolution” all the way to the convention in Philadelphia – something party leaders want to avoid so the focus can be on the nominee and the battle against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Sanders has hinted that having a say about what goes into the party platform would be the kind of concession that would convince him to drop his feud with the DNC, and Wasserman Schultz in particular.

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“I want to have a platform of the Democratic Party which is very strong, the strongest ever representing working people,” he said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. “I want changes in the rules of the Democratic primary process, such that we have open primaries where millions of people are not disenfranchised because they are independents.”

Clinton, meanwhile, signaled an openness to Sanders’ rough list of demands.

“Well, certainly we're going to talk with him when he's ready to talk and listen to him. And we will take into account what he is asking for. I think that's part of the process,” she said Sunday during an interview with Meet the Press.

The agreement between Sanders and party officials may have put the pin back in the grenade of what has become a contentious Democratic primary. Tensions ratcheted up last week after Clinton told CNN that she was essentially the de facto standard-bearer for the party, a claim that infuriated Sanders, who accused the former First Lady this weekend of “jumping the gun.”

Based on how well the drafting panel goes, it could boost cooperation between the campaign camps and lead to even bigger concessions to Sanders, who faces the almost insurmountable task of defeating Clinton in the final weeks of the primary season. Possible concessions include cabinet appointments in a Clinton administration or agreements to tackle legislation aimed at economic inequality.

Even so, a major truce will likely have to wait until after the next slate of Democratic voting contests on June 5 and 7.