Shaheen Cautions 'Bernie or Bust' Movement: Don't Hand Trump the Election

Jul 26, 2016

Jeanne Shaheen
Credit Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen  says it's time for Bernie Sanders supporters to unite behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

"We can't afford to have people sitting on the sidelines complaining," Shaheen said, speaking to NHPR's Morning Edition from Philadelphia.

"I am reminded of the 2000 race between Al Gore and George W. Bush when people who were not happy with Al Gore in New Hampshire voted for Ralph Nader and swung the state’s four electoral votes to George W. Bush and that was the election," Shaheen said.

"And what we saw then was tax cuts for the wealthiest in this country, an invasion of Iraq, which was a legacy that we’re still involved in, and a very different country than I believe we would have had if Al Gore had been president."

Shaheen also weighed in on the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz following the release of leaked emails showing DNC officials expressing bias toward Clinton.

"I support that decision and I think we need to put it behind us and move forward," Shaheen said. "This election is not about emails at the DNC."

Here's the full transcript of Shaheen's interview from Tuesday morning: 

I know from here it looked like there was a lot frustration in the crowd among Bernie Sanders’ supporters Monday – how would you describe the scene from the podium Monday night?  

Clearly, people were there to support their candidate. I understand the Bernie folks want to give him cheers and want to continue to support his agenda. And that I think is one of the great things about the compromises at this convention. We are going to have a progressive agenda that we’re going to continue to run on and continue both Bernie’s legacy and the Obama legacy.

What did you make of Senator Sanders' speech last night? Did he do what he needed to do to bring the party together?

I think he absolutely did. He made a very good case for why we need to elect Hillary Clinton as president and talked about why he’s going to go out and support her. I think that translates to so many of his supporters. The last number I saw was about 85 percent of those Bernie supporters have already switched to Hillary and they’re ready to go out and work for her in fall. And that’s what’s most important because what we all agree on is Donald Trump should be President of the United States.

So is that your message to the so-called Bernie or Bust voters who are having a hard time getting behind Clinton?

Absolutely it is. I am reminded of the 2000 race between Al Gore and George W. Bush when people who were not happy with Al Gore in New Hampshire voted for Ralph Nader and swung the state’s four electoral votes to George W. Bush and that was the election. And what we saw then was tax cuts for the wealthiest in this country, an invasion of Iraq, which was a legacy that we’re still involved in, and a very different country than we would have had if Al Gore had been president.

I do want to ask you about the situation with the Democratic National Committee and the release of the leaked emails showing apparent bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. What’s been your reaction to all of this?

The individuals involved clearly showed their bias. I think that’s unfortunate. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has stepped down. I support that decision and I think we need to put it behind us and move forward. This election is not about emails at the DNC. This election is about who is going to lead this country in a way that is going to reduce the disparities between the wealthiest in this country and the poorest, who’s going to make sure the middle class has a way forward so they can send their kids to college and afford that, that their children will have child care when they need it; that people can get good jobs and we can have an economy where we are creating good jobs and supporting small business; that we can make sure the United States continues its alliances with NATO and partnerships around the world that make us stronger. Hillary Clinton is the person who will do that. Donald Trump is unfit to be Commander in Chief.

But doesn’t this issue with the DNC exacerbate the situation with the Bernie or Bust people?

At this point, they’ve got to decide what they want to do. Do they want to continue to complain or do they want to make a positive difference in what happens in November? I’m betting that they love their country more than they want to complain.

Polls show this is still a close race with Donald Trump and Clinton.

It is a close race, which is why we can’t afford to have people sitting on the sidelines complaining. We all need to work together.

Clinton continues to struggle with her favorability and trust numbers. What does Clinton need to do to change that dynamic?

One of the things that I want to see happen at this convention is people need to know more about Hillary Clinton the person; the person who I’ve known since before she became First Lady who works for things she believes in like early childhood education and health care for all Americans. A person who when she gets struck down, gets back up. That’s what America is all about. It’s not about each of us getting our own way; it’s about what we do when we don’t get our own way. How we get back up, how we keep going forward to make America a better place. That’s what Hillary Clinton has done, and that’s what she’ll do as president.