- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brushing by his past criticisms of Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernard Sanders on Tuesday ended his holdout and endorsed his rival — but the senator from Vermont also took veiled shots at his former opponent’s big-money campaign contributions and conceded he had disappointed his own supporters.

At a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Democratic duo launched an all-out assault against Donald Trump. Mr. Sanders made clear that any of his supporters who might consider voting for the Republican must stand instead with Mrs. Clinton.

Democrats had been waiting for his full-throated endorsement since Mrs. Clinton essentially locked up the nomination more than a month ago, but it stands in stark contrast to many of the harsh attacks he lobbed throughout the primary process. Mr. Sanders had criticized Mrs. Clinton for her positions on health care, climate change, the federal minimum wage and other issues, and called into question her judgment, including her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War.

For Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton, those clashes now are history.

“I have come here not to talk about the past, but to focus on the future. That future will be shaped more by what happens on Nov. 8 in voting booths across our nation than by any other event in the world,” the senator said. “I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president. … This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face. Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.”

In her own comments, Mrs. Clinton thanked Mr. Sanders and his supporters for their impact on the political process, and she promised that they will always have a “seat at the table” if she wins the White House.

Sen. Sanders has brought young people off the sidelines and into the political process. He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country and are building a movement that is bigger than one candidate or one campaign,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Thank you, Bernie, for your endorsement. But more than that, thank you for your lifetime of fighting injustice. I am proud to be fighting alongside you, because, my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together.”

But just minutes earlier, with Mrs. Clinton standing right beside him, Mr. Sanders boasted that his campaign — unlike Mrs. Clinton’s — relied only on small donations and rejected money from Wall Street. Attacking Mrs. Clinton’s reliance on corporate donations and high-priced fundraisers in places such as New York City and Hollywood was a staple of Mr. Sanders‘ primary campaign, and he reminded voters of that during his speech.

“Let me also thank … the millions of contributors who showed the world that we could run a successful national campaign based on small individual contributions — 2½ million of them. Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution continues,” he said.

In an email to supporters later in the day, Mr. Sanders said he understands that some of them disagree with his endorsement.

“Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president. I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision,” he said in the email. “But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a transformed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.”

In recent weeks, Mrs. Clinton had moved closer to Mr. Sanders‘ positions on health care, college affordability and other issues. The Democratic Party adopted as part of its platform a pathway toward the legalization of marijuana, a call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, stronger action against climate change and other positions Mr. Sanders advocated throughout the primary race.

The shifts by Mrs. Clinton and the party allowed Mr. Sanders and his supporters to claim a moral victory and gave the senator the political cover he needed to make Tuesday’s endorsement.

Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton went step by step through those and other issues to demonstrate how they have come together in recent weeks. The former first lady acknowledged that her recently announced debt-free college plan was a “proposal Sen. Sanders and I worked on together.”

While Democrats celebrated newfound unity, Mr. Trump painted Mr. Sanders as a sellout.

“Bernie Sanders, who has lost most of his leverage, has totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton,” he tweeted Tuesday morning ahead of the Portsmouth event. “I am somewhat surprised Bernie Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters. They are not happy that he is selling out!”

As Mr. Sanders offered his endorsement, top progressive groups such as Democracy for America and MoveOn.Org — both of which backed the senator during the Democratic primary contests — jumped aboard the Clinton bandwagon.

“We’re backing Hillary Clinton in the race for president because she gives our country the opportunity to smash one of its last great glass ceilings and will be the partner we need in the White House to realize the agenda that Bernie Sanders’ political revolution fought for in the primaries — from tuition-free college to Social Security expansion,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a liberal PAC.

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