Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has said he thinks his supporters will vote for Joe Biden in November’s US election, despite a former aide’s warning that Biden was not consolidating Sanders supporters.
In a memo released last week, former Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver said Sanders supporters were “currently unsupportive and unenthusiastic” about Biden and “there is a real and urgent need to help Biden consolidate Sanders supporters”.
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, said on ABC News’ This Week program on Sunday that Biden was “beginning” to make overtures to his supporters “And I think at the end of the day they will be voting for Joe Biden.”
“I think, at the end of the day, the vast majority of the people who voted for me who supported me will understand and do understand that Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country, he is a pathological liar, he’s a racist and a sexist, a homophobe, etcetera,” said Sanders.
“But I think what Joe is gonna have to do – and he’s beginning to move in that direction – is to say to those working class people, say to those young people, say to those minorities, ‘Listen, I understand your situation’.”
Sanders said Biden’s message should focus on student debt relief, health insurance coverage, a living wage, climate change policy and racism in the criminal justice and immigration systems.
Biden, who has run on his record as Barack Obama’s vice-president, is regarded as a moderate who appeals to more centrist Democrats, and his policy platform has been criticized by some progressive groups who see it as overly cautious and lacking ambition.
“I think they are going to reach out to our supporters and come up with an agenda that speaks to the needs of working families, of young families and minority communities,” Sanders said.
Sanders withdrew from the Democratic presidential primary race in April and conceded to Biden, the presumptive nominee.
An analysis by CNN on Sunday of the latest state polls found Biden holding a national lead over Trump of about eight points and also leading Trump in key swing states.
Democrats had difficulty corralling Sanders supporters behind the 2016 Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, with about 12% of Sanders supporters that year voting instead for Trump, according to a 2017 Cooperative Congressional Election study.
Sanders supporters in the 2020 cycle appear much less likely to back Trump in the general election, however, according to polling. A Suffolk University/USA TODAY survey conducted last month found that 4% planned to vote for Trump.
The Sanders and Biden campaigns have been working together to encourage supporters to join the common cause of defeating Trump. In a joint campaign memo released last month, they announced that the Biden camp would appoint some Sanders supporters as delegates at the national convention and invite the Sanders camp to help craft the official party platform.
The 2020 Democratic National Convention is scheduled to be held in late August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the party has made contingency plans for a virtual convention if warranted by coronavirus concerns.
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