His campaign is over, yet Bernie Sanders says that the movement he helped create — one that ignited a youthful, liberal following during the Democratic primary — will press onward.
And this week, the Vermont senator sought to help it press ahead with the launch of Our Revolution, a political organization that will raise money and dole it out to candidates in lockstep with Sanders' ideals.
“We changed the conversation regarding the possibilities of our country,” Sanders said of his campaign against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We redefined what the vision and the future of our country should be.”
Yet the group's launch has been a bit bumpy.
Several key staffers initially involved in the group resigned in recent days after Sanders announced that Jeff Weaver, a longtime aide to Sanders who served as his campaign manager, would oversee it.
Weaver, whose style can at times be combative, had set up the group as a 501(c)(4), which allows it to receive unlimited contributions from anonymous donors — a move, said a person close to the group who is not authorized to speak publicly, that led to the resignations because it contrasts with ideals Sanders preached on the campaign trail.
Throughout the primary Sanders railed against big money in politics. That message, coupled with pledges to address income inequality, fueled his grass-roots following.
In a speech Wednesday night from Burlington, Vt., Sanders did not mention the group's status as a 501(c)(4), but stressed that his populist message would endure.
He noted that his campaign helped push forward a progressive platform at the Democratic National Convention last month. The platform calls for a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage, expansion of Social Security and setting a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
“If anyone thinks that that document and what is in that platform is simply going to be resting on a shelf somewhere accumulating dust, they are very mistaken,” Sanders said. "We are going to bring that platform alive and make it the blueprint for moving the Democrats forward.”
Sanders, who formally endorsed Clinton last month, plans to stump for her in several battleground states this fall.
He has also endorsed the campaigns of down-ticket candidates in a host of states, who have embraced his calls for free college tuition and raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25.
Among those candidates is Tim Canova, who is challenging Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, in an Aug. 30 primary for the South Florida congressional seat she’s held since 2013.
Sanders battled with Wasserman Schultz throughout the primary, saying she was tipping the scales for Clinton by, among other things, offering a limited number of debates. Wasserman Schultz resigned last month after internal emails made public by the website WikiLeaks confirmed bias by some DNC officials in favor of Clinton.