Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) gave a long-awaited endorsement to former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a joint appearance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire yesterday, marking an important step towards a united Democratic Party going into the Democratic National Convention.

Standing together at the podium, Clinton and Sanders presented an impressive picture of unity and cohesion, making it clear that they both feel they have much more in common than not. After what was at times a contentious primary campaign, the mood during the joint appearance was noticeably warm and friendly as Clinton and Sanders exchanged pats on the back, kind words, and smiles. Sanders’ endorsement comes in the wake of a Pew poll released last week showing that 85% of Sanders’ supporters plan to vote for Clinton in November. The sense of coming together in a fight for shared values that characterized the event struck a sharp contrast to the Republican Party, which has struggled to unify around the deeply controversial nominee, Donald Trump.

In his speech, Senator Sanders conceded the nomination to Secretary Clinton and congratulated her on her win. He also praised her highly, outlining the many issues on which they agree, and vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that she wins the election in November. Sanders emphasized the vast importance of this election for the future of the Supreme Court, healthcare, education, and economic, social, and racial justice, among other issues, and warned voters against the dangers of a Trump presidency. “If you don’t believe this election is important,” Sanders said, “take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

Senator Sanders spent much of his speech describing the many areas of agreement between himself and Secretary Clinton, as well as drawing a sharp contrast between their shared progressive positions and those of Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump. Sanders praised Clinton’s positions on raising the minimum wage, education reform, universal healthcare, and climate change, and emphasized the coming together of the two campaigns to create what Sanders called “the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.” Secretary Clinton also discussed these issues in her speech, and thanked Senator Sanders his support, as well as for his “lifetime of fighting injustice.”

At the end of his remarks, Senator Sanders offered a more personal endorsement of Secretary Clinton, saying “I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children. Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president,” Sanders concluded, “and I am proud to stand with her today.”

Sanders’ strong endorsement and the aura of unity and shared goals that defined yesterday’s event sent a clear message to Republicans who had hoped that Sanders’ supporters would refuse to vote for Clinton or even be persuaded to vote for Trump. Democrats recognize the importance of the many issues that unite them in this election, and are coming together to support their nominee, and to defeat Donald Trump.

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