Bernie Sanders has endorsed Joe Biden’s US presidential campaign, appearing on a livestream with his former rival for the Democratic nomination to stress the importance of defeating US president Donald Trump.
“I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans, to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse,” Sanders, who dropped out of the 2020 US presidential race last week, told Biden on Monday.
Democrats hope Sanders’ speedy endorsement of Biden will help heal the party following a primary that revealed sharp ideological disagreements among the party’s core supporters and left many of Sanders’ young supporters disillusioned. While early public opinion surveys show Biden with a lead over Trump, his margin among young voters is smaller than the advantages Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had during their presidential campaigns.
Sanders acknowledged there were significant policy differences between his vision of democratic socialism and Biden’s centre-left views, but he said the campaigns would create joint task forces to develop policy positions on key issues, including on the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration and climate change.
“Your endorsement means a great deal to me,” Biden told the senator. “I’m going to need you, not just to campaign, but to govern.”
Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic nominee since launching his presidential campaign in early 2019. Since suspending his own run for the White House, he has said his advisers would continue working with Biden’s team to present a united front. Sanders joins a long list of former Democratic presidential candidates who have thrown their support behind Biden. One notable exception is senator Elizabeth Warren.
Biden has signalled openness to shifting his agenda left. He said he supported cancelling student debt for a large portion of Americans who make less than $125,000 a year, and has also adopted a Warren proposal to repeal a bankruptcy law he once championed.
Biden’s opening bid to progressives has been met with mixed reviews. Some of Sanders’ top surrogates have baulked at the proposals. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times she felt Biden wasn’t making a serious effort to reach out to the left wing of the party.
“The whole process of coming together should be uncomfortable for everyone involved — that’s how you know it’s working,” she said. “And if Biden is only doing things he’s comfortable with, then it’s not enough.”