WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday endorsed political rival Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for president.
The announcement came on a livestream five days after he suspended his own presidential campaign.
The senator appeared on a virtual event with the former vice president as Sanders also stressed the importance of continuing to win delegates for his own campaign to “influence” the party platform.
Still, the Vermont senator said the most important thing is defeating President Donald Trump in November.
Sanders told Biden that he would be the best person to do so.
“We need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden. “I will do all that I can to make that happen.”
Biden agreed, saying: “I’m going to need you not just to win the campaign, but to govern.”
The backing is a crucial development for Biden, who must bridge the Democratic Party's ideological divide to unify voters against President Donald Trump in the fall. Biden and Sanders, a leading progressive, clashed throughout the primary over policy issues such as the “Medicare for All” universal health care plan.
The endorsement stands in contrast to the extended 2016 fight between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who became the nominee that year. Sanders endorsed Clinton, but only after the end of a drawn-out nominating fight and amid a bitter fight over the Democratic platform that extended to the summer convention.
Sanders did not immediately address Monday whether he would continue to fight for delegates at state conventions around the country or whether he’d simply use his newfound alliance with Biden to influence the nominee and the policy slate that he will present voters.
Appearing in a split screen with Biden, Sanders said there's "no great secret out there that you and I have our differences.”
But he cited ongoing work between the two camps on several policy matters as a reason for the endorsement. And he said the biggest priority was defeating Trump.
“We’ve got to make Trump a one-term president,” Sanders said. “I will do all that I can to make that happen.”