Sanders under pressure to quit as Democrats look to unite

Under mounting pressure from Democratic leaders to abandon his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders returned home to Vermont on Wednesday following dispiriting losses to Hillary Clinton. He vowed to fight on for a political revolution but showed signs he would bow to the inevitable and bring his insurgent effort to a close.

WASHINGTON — Under mounting pressure from Democratic leaders to abandon his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders returned home to Vermont on Wednesday following dispiriting losses to Hillary Clinton. He vowed to fight on for a political revolution but showed signs he would bow to the inevitable and bring his insurgent effort to a close.

For Sanders, as his remarkable White House bid runs out of next stops, the only question is when. Just as important for Sanders is how to keep his campaign alive in some form, by converting his newfound political currency into policies to change the Democratic Party, the Senate or even the country itself, on issues including income inequality and campaign finance reform.

To that end the senator was to travel to Washington on Thursday to meet with President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and speak at a rally. Obama is expected to endorse Clinton as soon as Thursday after his meeting with Sanders, and Reid is prepared to discuss with Sanders how the self-described democratic socialist might advance his goals back in the Senate.

Neither Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump had public events Wednesday, both preparing for the next big hurdle between themselves and the White House — a five-month head-to-head race to November.

Clinton herself did tell The Associated Press in an interview: “I think it’s time that we move forward and unite the party and determine how we are going to defeat Donald Trump, which is our highest and most pressing challenge right now.”

She said of Sanders: “He has said that he’s certainly going to do everything he can to defeat Trump. I’m very much looking forward to working with him to do that.”

Ahead of Thursday’s meetings, Sanders’ Democratic colleagues were growing increasingly outspoken in nudging him to wind down his campaign and throw his support behind Clinton. However, most stopped short of calling on him to drop out right away.

“Let him make that decision. Give him time,” Vice-President Joe Biden said when asked if it was time for Sanders to halt his effort. Biden was arranging calls with both Sanders and Clinton to discuss the race before making a public endorsement of his own.

Sanders promised to continue his campaign to the last primary contest, in the District of Columbia next Tuesday. But about half his campaign staff is being laid off, two people familiar with the plans said Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the layoffs.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said it was time for the party to unite, “the sooner the better,” and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Sanders should “stand down.”

Even Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the one Senate Democrat to endorse Sanders, said in an interview Wednesday: “We have a nominee, that nominee is Hillary Clinton, congratulations to her for winning the Democratic primary.”

Of Sanders, he said, “I think he’s laying the groundwork to make sure that we have a unified party at the convention and go into the November battle shoulder to shoulder.”

Some Democrats were disappointed that Sanders hadn’t acknowledged Clinton’s “milestone,” as she described it, in becoming the first woman to be the presumptive presidential nominee of a major party. In his speech following Tuesday’s primaries in California and New Jersey, which Clinton won easily, Sanders merely mentioned that they had shared a “very gracious call,” and that brought boos from the crowd.

The task of persuading Sanders’ supporters to fall in line falls in part to Obama, still one of its most popular figures.

Though the White House has signalled for days that a presidential endorsement is imminent, Obama has sought to give Sanders the space to exit the race on his own terms. He has promised to campaign full-throttle for the Democratic nominee.

One big campaign question is whether the voters who helped elect Obama — young people, minorities and women — can be counted on to show up for someone else. To that end, aides said Obama planned to place a particular emphasis on young voters who have formed the core of Sanders’ support.

That effort was to start Wednesday evening, when Obama was taping an appearance with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” a favourite among younger viewers.

On Tuesday Sanders ended his final California rally with three simple words — “The struggle continues” — but his brief address in a Santa Monica airport hangar felt at times like a valedictory as he thanked supporters for “being part of the political revolution.”

As the Democratic race was wrapping up, Republicans were unraveling anew. Despite handily winning GOP contests in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, Trump was in damage control mode over his ethnicity-based attacks on a Hispanic judge that had party leaders in fits. After one senator rescinded his endorsement and House Speaker Paul Ryan called the comments “racist,” Trump sought to calm worries with a rare, scripted speech in which he insisted to voters he “will never, ever let you down.”

Despite Ryan’s concerns about Trump’s remarks, the speaker reaffirmed his support in a closed-door meeting with fellow GOP lawmakers Wednesday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read