Democrats searching for unity

Published 10:23 am Friday, June 10, 2016

WASHINGTON — Nearing the end of a lengthy primary fight, Democrats are coalescing around Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and looking to reunite the party through a carefully orchestrated plan aimed at nudging rival Bernie Sanders to make his exit.

President Barack Obama’s endorsement of his former secretary of state on Thursday headlined a day of unity for Democrats as the party prepares for Republican Donald Trump. Amid the message of harmony, Sanders crisscrossed the nation’s capital and received praise in meetings with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic leaders.

On Thursday night, Sanders’ District of Columbia rally outside RFK Stadium didn’t mention Clinton and didn’t repeat his calls to persuade superdelegates to support him or his plans for a contested convention in Philadelphia. The Vermont senator barely mentioned Tuesday’s primary election in the city, the last on the Democratic calendar.

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“It would be extraordinary if the people of Washington, our nation’s capital, stood up and told the world that they are ready to lead this country into a political revolution,” Sanders said in the final sentence of his hourlong address.

Democrats are wary that divisions that emerged between Clinton and Sanders during the primaries might spill out during next month’s Democratic National Convention or provide an opening to Trump, who is on course to become the Republican nominee. So unity has become Job 1 in the party.

Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined that effort Thursday evening, both endorsing Clinton and signaling to many of Sanders’ supporters that it’s time to unite around the party’s presumptive nominee.

Clinton and Warren are expected to meet Friday at Clinton’s Washington home, a senior Democratic official told the AP, speaking anonymously to confirm the private meeting.

The progressive stalwart, who has been positioning herself as one of Trump’s toughest adversaries, had been the only holdout among the Senate’s Democratic women. But she said she would do all that she can to prevent Trump from getting “any place close to the White House.”

“I think having a fighter in the lead, a female fighter in the lead, is exactly what this country needs,” Warren said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

In his long-expected endorsement, delivered via an online video, Obama pointed to Clinton’s grit and determination but also called for “embracing” Sanders’ economic message, which has galvanized liberals and independents. Obama sought to reassure Democrats that Clinton shares their values and is ready for the job.