- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Amid signs his campaign may be nearing its end, Sen. Bernard Sanders met with rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night in Washington as the Democratic presidential primary race comes to a close and the party turns its attention to uniting against Republican Donald Trump.

The closed-door meeting came on the same day Democrats in the District of Columbia went to the polls in the final primary of the 2016 election season. Mr. Sanders had vowed to remain in the race until all Democrats across the country had had their say.

With the contests now over, Mr. Sanders seems to be laying the groundwork for his exit and expected endorsement of Mrs. Clinton.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Vermont senator announced he’d deliver a major video address to supporters on Thursday evening and hinted that he’s shifting his focus away from the fight against Mrs. Clinton and toward pushing the Democratic Party further to the ideological left. He’s also mounting a full-scale campaign to change Democratic leadership, arguing the party must embrace more progressive principles.

“When we started this campaign, I told you that I was running not to oppose any man or woman, but to propose new and far-reaching policies to deal with the crises of our time,” he said in a statement. “This campaign is about more than Bernie Sanders. It is about all of us together. It is about millions of people from coast to coast knowing that we can do much better as a nation.”

Mrs. Clinton became the presumptive Democratic nominee last week after crossing the 2,383-delegate threshold.

SEE ALSO: Will he quit? Bernie Sanders to speak about campaign’s future Thursday

Following that milestone, the two campaigns reportedly have been in touch over the past week. Discussions surely have focused on Mr. Sanders‘ role at the Democratic convention in July and on exactly what the senator wants to see in the party platform moving forward.

He’s made income inequality and tougher Wall Street regulation hallmarks of his campaign and has succeeded, to some degree, in pushing Mrs. Clinton toward more liberal positions on those issues and others.

Recognizing that Mr. Sanders‘ supporters may be reluctant to back Mrs. Clinton absent major progressive pushes on debt-free college, climate change and a host of other issues, the Clinton campaign has made clear its relationship with the Sanders camp moving forward will center on uniting behind a liberal agenda and a mutual interest in stopping Mr. Trump.

“She looks forward to the opportunity to discuss how they can advance their shared commitment to a progressive agenda, and work together to stop Donald Trump in the general election,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement Monday night, when the meeting with Mr. Sanders was officially announced.

As Mr. Sanders prepares a potential exit, he’s also pushing for the ouster of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“The time is long overdue for a fundamental transformation of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Sanders told reporters in Washington, D.C. “I believe we have to replace the current Democratic National Committee leadership. We need a person at the leadership of the DNC who is vigorously supporting and out working to bring people into the political process.”

In the meantime, Mrs. Clinton has publicly moved on from her battles with Mr. Sanders and is now fully engaged in a war with Mr. Trump.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, she spoke at a union hall in Pittsburgh and took aim at Mr. Trump’s recent comments on national security, painting the businessman as unfit and unqualified to lead the country.

She said his recent comments about President Obama — interpreted by some as Mr. Trump implying the president sympathizes with terrorists — are further evidence he cannot be commander in chief.

“Even in a time of divided politics, this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president of the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said in her second national security address over the past two days. “What Donald Trump is saying is shameful.”

Mr. Trump’s Monday remarks on Fox News have sparked yet another backlash against the billionaire businessman and seem to have created a political opening for Mrs. Clinton.

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Mr. Obama’s policies to combat terrorists.

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