Sanders And Clinton To Campaign Together In Portsmouth, N.H.

Jul 12, 2016
Originally published on July 12, 2016 8:01 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. This hour, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are having their first ever joint campaign appearance in New Hampshire. There's lots of speculation that this is the long-anticipated moment when Senator Sanders endorses Clinton, who is, of course, the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee. NPR's Tamara Keith is on the scene there in Portsmouth, N.H. Good morning.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Right, and we've been watching just these last moments, and it's Governor Maggie Hanson - Hassan rather. She's speaking at a podium displaying Clinton's own motto - stronger together. But what's going on right now?

KEITH: Yeah, and right now, Senator Jeanne Shaheen is speaking, the Democratic senator who endorsed Hillary Clinton. Before that, there were a number of speakers who had endorsed Bernie Sanders before. And they all came up and endorsed Hillary Clinton, progressive leaders who endorsed Hillary Clinton. The response in the audience was mixed. This is a mixed crowd here. It feels kind of like one of those weddings where not everyone is convinced of the union. And there have been sort of feuding chants of Hillary, Hillary and Bernie, Bernie and - so it's slightly uneasy.

MONTAGNE: Oh, that's interesting. Are people wearing the different T-shirts or what item you can sort of tell?

KEITH: Yes. Oh, yeah, different T-shirts, different signs, shouting different slogans. This is definitely - you know, not everyone in this room is excited about this union.

MONTAGNE: Well, do we know at this moment what they're expected to say? Obviously, the big word of the moment is endorsement.

KEITH: Yeah, and we do not have confirmation (laughter). However, it would seem odd for, you know, the rival candidate to come and stand on a stage surrounded by American flags and signs that say stronger together in this very coordinated event and not go that extra step. So it is widely expected. Sources have told us to expect an endorsement from Bernie Sanders. But I haven't seen the script.

MONTAGNE: Right. Well, it has taken Bernie Sanders some time - almost a month - to come around, if he does do that indeed. But joining Hillary Clinton today seems to be at least going in that direction. So what was going on there?

KEITH: Well - so what was happening is that Bernie Sanders was working to extract policy concessions. He did not want to just, you know, endorse a few days after the end of the primaries, which, in 2008, is what Hillary Clinton had done. What Bernie Sanders wanted to do was negotiate for planks in the party platform, which he did. He got a $15 minimum wage in the party platform, for instance, some climate change language. And he also, in negotiations - there were these long negotiations every day for - since June 7. The campaign managers for Sanders and Clinton have either spoken or sent text messages to each other or sat for meals. As a result of those negotiations, over the last week, Hillary Clinton has made announcements about health care policy and college affordability that move her closer to Sanders' position.

MONTAGNE: You know, one thing about what you've just suggested, that there are these sort of - it's not exactly a totally friendly crowd, although we're hearing a lot of cheering now, is that Sanders' hardest core supporters don't seem to want to get on board with Clinton. They don't seem to want him to endorse her after all he said about her during this campaign. That is, suggesting she's at one with the big banks and variously not the best candidate. Is unity really possible between the two, or what suggests that it might be?

KEITH: You know, there will be some level of unity. There's a recent Pew poll that shows 85 percent of Sanders supporters say they plan to vote for Clinton in November. However, I can tell you, based on the people who are in this room right now, there are people who say they will never vote for Hillary Clinton. Now, how many are they? The Pew poll would suggest about 6 percent. It's not entirely clear. But they, you know, this is part of an effort to get some level of unity in the party, especially ahead of the Democratic convention, which is coming up very soon.

MONTAGNE: Which brings us to just one more interesting thing. What is his role expected to be at the convention, and how much of it is something that he was able to, in a sense, demand?

KEITH: So it has not officially been announced what his role will be, but he is expected to have a prominent speaking role. And he is expected to want a roll call vote to be able to give his delegates a chance to show their support for him on the floor. But all of that is still in the works.

MONTAGNE: Still in the works and...

KEITH: Or at least yet to be announced to us.

MONTAGNE: Now, we heard some boos there. Were you able - because you were talking to me of course - were you able to ascertain what that was all about?

KEITH: I'm not sure what precisely they were booing. But every time people on the stage have talked about unity, there have been boos...

MONTAGNE: Well, we're going to...

KEITH: ...From some number of Sanders supporters who are here.

MONTAGNE: And those are supporters who perhaps, may I just suggest, may never have come around. I mean, you know, they were out there for Sanders. That's who they - that's who they were interested in politically.

KEITH: And they believe in Sanders, and they believe that he is this leader that can't be replicated and that their allegiance to him doesn't just easily transfer. But how many of them there are in the grand scheme of things is just not clear.

MONTAGNE: Well, I'm sorry we're not going to find out in this conversation whether or not there is an endorsement because I'm going to let you go right now and watch what's happening. Thanks a lot, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Tamara Keith at the Clinton-Sanders rally in Portsmouth, N.H. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.