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Bernie Sanders signals he’s winding down his campaign, but doesn’t quit

Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks June 14 during a news conference outside his campaign headquarters in Washington.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Sen. Bernie Sanders signaled Thursday night that he was winding down his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he did not explicitly quit the campaign or endorse rival Hillary Clinton.

“The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly,” the senator from Vermont said in a live-streamed speech to supporters nationwide. “And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.”

Sanders waged a stronger-than-expected challenge to Clinton, carrying 22 states and winning more than 12 million votes. But she won nearly 16 million and secured enough delegates to win the nomination at next month’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In his video address Thursday, Sanders, who throughout the primary season amassed widespread support among young people and the party’s liberal base, said it’s “no secret” that he and Clinton have disagreements, but that he hoped to work with Clinton in the weeks ahead.

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“I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions … to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda,” Sanders said. “I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party so that it becomes a party of working people and young people.”

Sanders called for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and achieving equal pay for women — issues on which Clinton is sympathetic. 

Even as he remains in the race, Sanders stressed that his campaign is focused on defeating Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. 

“We cannot have a president who insults Mexicans and Latinos, Muslims, women and African Americans,” he said.

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In recent days, Clinton was endorsed by President Obama and liberal stalwart Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, both of whom have called for party unity in an effort to defeat Trump in the November election. 

On Tuesday, in a step toward that unity, Sanders and Clinton met to discuss the future of the Democratic Party as the nominating season wrapped up with Clinton’s win in the District of Columbia primary.

Sanders is seeking, among other things, new leadership at the Democratic National Committee as well as changes to the party’s nominating process.

Prior to Sanders’ speech Thursday, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said on Bloomberg TV Sanders was no longer seeking the support of superdelegates – party leaders and others free to back whomever they please – a move that signals he is no longer seeking the party’s nomination.

Moreover, after the contentious primary fight, Weaver said, Sanders and Clinton, as well as their staffs, were on good terms.

“I think people are working together because we understand we need to defeat Donald Trump in the fall,” Weaver said. “That’s an imperative.”

kurtis.lee@latimes.com

Follow @kurtisalee for more news on the 2016 campaign

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UPDATES:

7:05 p.m.: This article was updated with additional background on the Democratic primary race.

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This article was originally published at 6:00 p.m.


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