Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November, calling his onetime presidential rival the party’s best hope to unseat President Donald Trump in a sweeping online address Monday at the Democratic National Convention.
“This election is the most important in modern history,” Sanders said during his keynote address. “We need an unprecedented response. A movement like never before, against greed, oligarchy and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president.”
The independent senator from Vermont spoke directly to his own supporters on Monday, urging them to throw their weight behind the former vice president while noting Biden had adopted a spate of progressive policies and earned Sanders’ support.
“My friends, thank you for your trust and the love you showed Jane and me … Together we have moved this country in a bold new direction,” Sanders said, referring to his wife. “Our campaign ended several months ago, but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream.”
Sanders took direct aim at Trump’s first term in office, pointing to the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his efforts to undermine doctors and scientists as tens of thousands of Americans died of COVID-19.
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” the senator said. “Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.”
Sanders endorsed Biden in April shortly after ending his own bid for the presidency following a series of poor showings in Democratic primaries around the country. At the time, the Vermont senator urged his progressive followers to back the more moderate former vice president, while saying he would remain on the ballot in an effort to ensure his policies were included in the Democratic Party platform.
“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 had said, addressing Biden.
The two have deepened their cooperation in recent months, unveiling a massive set of joint policy proposals in July as part of a “unity task force.” The positions included a ban on for-profit charter schools, a mandate on net-zero emissions for all buildings by 2030 and a 100-day moratorium on deportations.
Biden has been more open to adjusting his platform to include more progressive proposals, and while the task force’s ultimate positions may have been disappointing to some of Sanders’ more activist supporters, the Vermont lawmaker said they were a good foundation Biden could build on during his presidency.
“Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction,” Sanders told NBC last month after the proposals were released.
Biden has embraced Sanders’ support despite their earlier rivalry, thanking him last month for “working together to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.”
On Monday, Sanders said that, though the pair had disagreed in the past, he knew that the former vice president would enter the White House ready to “fight on Day One.”
“Joe Biden will end the hate and division that Trump has created,” he said. “My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in the primary, and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump … the future of our democracy is at stake, the future of our economy is at stake, the future of our planet is at stake.”
“We must come together.”
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