‘I see you, I hear you’: Biden reaches out to Sanders supporters in bid to unite Democratic party

Candidate appeals to progressives for support to win general election: 'You are more than welcome. You're needed'

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 08 April 2020 20:51 BST
Bernie Sanders ends presidential campaign for 2020

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Joe Biden has commended Bernie Sanders "for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America" following the Vermont senator's withdrawal from the 2020 race.

After facing endless criticism from the senator's supporters throughout the campaign, the former vice president is now calling on the senator's millions of backers for their endorsement as he looks likely to lock in the Democratic party's nomination to face Donald Trump in November.

In a statement, the candidate said: "I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You're needed. ... Together we will defeat Donald Trump. And when we do that, we'll not only do the hard work of rebuilding this nation — we'll transform it."

His statement borrowed language from progressives that have pointed to the coronavirus crisis as the kind of institutional failure addressed by Mr Sanders' campaign.

Mr Biden said said that the pandemic has "laid bare" the "biggest cracks in the social safety net ... from health care to paid sick leave to a more extensive and comprehensive system of unemployment benefits," issues that were the hallmarks of the Sanders campaign.

He said his campaign "will need to address these ... just as we need to address rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. And we all know -- the clock is ticking -- we don't have a moment to waste in combating the climate crisis."

Eight months ahead of the general election, the candidate's call for party unity is likely in the hopes of avoiding similar party clashes in 2016 that sparked a progressive movement following Mr Sanders' candidacy and forced an examination of the party's status quo.

In his statement, the presumptive nominee praised Mr Sanders, saying "it's voices like Bernie's that refuse to allow us to just accept what is -- that refuse to accept we can't change what's wrong in our nation -- that refuse to accept the health and well-being of our fellow citizens and our planet isn't our responsibility, too."

The senator "gets a lot of credit for his passionate advocacy for the issues he cares about [but] he doesn't get enough credit for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mirror and ask if we've done enough," Mr Biden wrote.

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