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Sanders Endorses Biden For President


Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race last week. And today he made his support for his former rival Joe Biden clear.


BERNIE SANDERS: So today I am asking all Americans - I'm asking every Democrat; I'm asking every independent; I'm asking a lot of Republicans - to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse.

KELLY: All right, so what is next as Sanders and Biden try to unify their supporters? For more on that, we're going to bring in NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid.

Hey, Asma.


KELLY: So Bernie Sanders has said for a while that he would support Biden if he became the nominee. Speak to the significance of actually hearing him say it out loud today.

KHALID: Well, you're right. He has long said he would support whoever was the Democratic nominee. But to me, the timing and the tone were key. I mean, this is very early for a rival to make an endorsement. You can think back to 2016. Sanders then did not endorse Hillary Clinton until July. If you look back even at 2008, Hillary Clinton did not endorse Barack Obama until the end of June. So, I mean, I would say that this is very early, historically speaking. Today, to me, though, the tone between these two men was also important to watch.

They joined each other via livestream, and, you know, there were so many moments where you could hear Sanders seem to try to remind his supporters about the need to defeat Donald Trump as president. And then you also heard from Joe Biden, you know, some indications that these two men are friends. He explicitly thanked Sanders for his friendship, told him he was not going to try to, you know, let him down and that he would need his support not just to campaign but to also govern. And you got the sense that these were two men who genuinely saw each other as friends and believed that they need to unite in order to defeat the Republicans.

KELLY: So that all sounds very pleasant, very friendly. However, these two politicians have not been competing against each other for months for lack of differences - all kind of...


KELLY: ...Policy differences. Did they try to begin reconciling any of those today?

KHALID: Well, today in this livestream video that they did, they - you know, you definitely heard Joe Biden, in particular, emphasize these sort of shared goals, common values. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN: You and I have always shared a profound conviction as long as we've both been in politics. This country wasn't built by Wall Street. It wasn't built by CEOs and hedge fund managers. It was built by workers.

KHALID: Now, Mary Louise, that language sounds, probably, awfully familiar to the type of language we've heard from Bernie Sanders for a while. We heard these two men - to me, what was most interesting - talk about the sense that they are planning to unite and actually create task forces to focus on specific policy priorities - education, the economy, climate change. But, you know, there is a big distinction on health care between these two men. And I will say I spent a lot of time talking to progressive activists in the last few days, and they've said if there's not really movement on "Medicare for All" from Joe Biden, they don't know that all of Sanders' supporters will really come around to him.

KELLY: OK. We did get more primary results today. Joe Biden is projected to win last week's Wisconsin primary, but Sanders says he is going to stay on the ballot for the rest of this primary season. So what does that mean as the campaign moves ahead?

KHALID: Well, he's trying to accrue more delegates with the primary goal of influencing the DNC's platform and rules. But, to me, the other unknown factor as we move ahead is what it will really take to convince some of his supporters to back Joe Biden. You know, we have seen - and we saw it even again today despite this livestream video that they did to get together that there are Biden skeptics within the Democratic Party. And, ultimately, there will still be more work for both of these men to do to convince those folks to come around and vote for Biden in November.

KELLY: NPR's Asma Khalid - thank you, Asma.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.