By Ken Bredemeier
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday formally endorsed his erstwhile rival, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, for U.S. president in the November national election against Republican President Donald Trump.
“We’ve got to make Trump a one-term president and we need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden in joint virtual appearance on a Biden webcast.
“I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe,” Sanders vowed.
“I want to thank you for that,” Biden responded. “It’s a big deal. Your endorsement means a great deal, a great deal to me.”
Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, was Biden’s last challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, but suspended his campaign last week in the face of Biden’s seemingly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates to the party’s national presidential nominating convention in August.
Sanders had pushed for several significant U.S. policy changes that Biden has resisted, such as a government takeover of medical health insurance — Medicare for All, Sanders called it — and free tuition for college students at public universities.
When Sanders ended his active campaigning after the Democratic presidential primary in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin last week, Biden adopted modified stances on the Sanders health insurance and tuition positions, an effort to woo Sanders supporters to his candidacy.
Biden, on his third run for the U.S. presidency over three decades, said that rather than a full government takeover of health insurance, Americans should be able to adopt government-assisted care at age 60 instead of the current 65.
On tuition, Biden called for writing off student debt for low-income and middle-class families who attended public colleges and universities and some private institutions.
Sanders had said since the outset of his 2020 campaign that he would do whatever he could to help the eventual Democratic nominee, if it wasn’t him, to defeat Trump.
But it remains unclear whether the most ardent supporters of Sanders’ progressive policy stances will follow him to support Biden.
In 2016, even though Sanders eventually endorsed the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, after losing to her in a long party nomination campaign, post-election polls showed about 12% of Sanders supporters voted for Trump over Clinton as she lost the national election.