Sanders under pressure to quit

A long-drawn primary may hurt Clinton's general election chances

Updated - October 18, 2016 02:18 pm IST

Published - May 14, 2016 12:01 am IST - WASHINGTON:

Pressure is mounting on Bernie Sanders to end his campaign for president, with Democratic Party leaders raising alarms that his continued presence in the race is undermining efforts to beat presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump this fall.

The new concerns come after Sanders’ recent wins over front-runner Hillary Clinton in Indiana and West Virginia. While those victories have provided his supporters a fresh sense of momentum heading into next week’s primaries in Kentucky and Oregon, they did almost nothing to help Mr. Sanders cut into Ms. Clinton’s nearly insurmountable lead in the delegates who will decide their party’s nomination.

“I don’t think they think of the downside of this,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a Clinton supporter who hosted the 2008 meeting that brokered post-primary peace between Clinton and then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama. “It’s actually harmful because she can’t make that general-election pivot the way she should,” Ms. Feinstein said. “Trump has made that pivot.”

What Clinton aides fear Ms. Clinton, her aides and supporters have largely resisted calling on Mr. Sanders to drop out, noting that she fought her 2008 primary bid again Mr. Obama well into June. But now that Mr. Trump has locked up the Republican nomination, they fear the billionaire businessman is capitalising on Mr. Sanders’ decision to remain in the race by echoing his attacks and trying to appeal to the same independent, economically frustrated voters that back the Vermont senator.

“I would just hope that he would understand that we need to begin consolidating our vote sooner rather than later,” said New York Rep. Steve Israel, a Clinton backer and former chief of efforts to elect Democrats to the House. “Democrats cannot wait too long.”

Though Ms. Clinton has for the past few weeks largely focused her rhetoric on Mr. Trump, campaign aides say the two-front effort hampers their ability to target both Sanders supporters and Republican-leaning independents that may be open to her candidacy. It also means she’s spending time in primary States, rather than battlegrounds that will decide the general election.

This weekend, for example, Ms. Clinton will campaign in Kentucky ahead of the State’s Tuesday primary.

She’s also dispatched several high-level advocates to the State, including Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Hakeem Jeffries and Joe Crowley of New York.

While they can talk up Ms. Clinton, Mr. Sanders’ determination to contest every State remaining has kept Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden largely on the sidelines, benching two of her most powerful advocates. “It all sort of slows the takeoff of her general-election campaign,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s liberal wing from a perennial battleground.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.