Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign got a boost Tuesday from the nation’s largest registered nurses union, earning praise for his longtime support for workers’ rights and his “trailblazing leadership” on “Medicare for All.”
The endorsement from National Nurses United is the group’s second for the Vermont senator, who won their approval early on in the 2016 presidential race. Back then, Sanders presented a clear contrast to challenger Hillary Clinton, whose past stances on labor-related issues hobbled her support among organized labor leaders.
This time, NNU’s 150,000 members had a much wider field of progressive candidates to choose from.
Sanders, however, was the only candidate to sit for an interview with the union in person, The New York Times reported. His closest progressive rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), called in via video chat, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg sent the union a recorded video, the Times said. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) declined the NNU’s invitation.
The union’s leadership touted Sanders’ support for the Green New Deal, free college and social justice programs, but particularly emphasized his health care proposals. As he did in 2016, Sanders has made his “Medicare for All” bill a key feature of his 2020 campaign.
“For nurses, our solidarity is a matter of life or death for our patients,” NNU President Jean Ross, a registered nurse from Minnesota, said in a statement. “We need a president who makes it easier for us to stand together and hold our employers accountable for putting people above profits.”
NNU Executive Director Bonnie Costillo said nurses “are beyond tired of watching our patients suffer and die needlessly, simply due to inability to pay.”
Though Sanders and Warren have similar visions for what American health care should look like, the two senators differ in how they would implement a universal single-payer plan.
The NNU will hold a news conference Friday to make the endorsement official.