Washington — Hillary Clinton, after resoundingly winning the final primary in the District of Columbia, held a meeting with her rival for the Democratic presidential nod, Bernie Sanders, that both sides described as positive.
Clinton, the former secretary of state, took 79 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary to 21 percent for Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont.
Media counts for delegates for a week have assessed Clinton as the presumptive nominee, although Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win major nominating contests, has yet to concede.
The two met privately, each with top aides, for the first time since the launch of the primaries after the polls closed Tuesday. Sanders’ message appeared to concede that Clinton had effectively won the nomination and it was time to focus on keeping Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, out of the White House.
“Sanders congratulated Secretary Clinton on the campaign she has run and said he appreciated her strong commitment to stopping Trump in the general election,” his campaign said in a statement.
Sanders wants to leverage his endorsement of Clinton to make sure she keeps steering in the leftward direction he has nudged her during the primary campaign, and his statement suggested he was optimistic that would be the case.
“The two discussed a variety of issues where they are seeking common ground: substantially raising the minimum wage; real campaign finance reform; making health care universal and accessible; making college affordable, and reducing student debt,” it said. “Sanders and Clinton agreed to continue working to develop a progressive agenda that addresses the needs of working families and the middle class and adopting a progressive platform for the Democratic National Convention.”
Clinton’s campaign in its statement forecast a role for Sanders in shaping the party platform and also emphasized unity in the face of Trump’s campaign. The New York Times quoted the statement as describing “a positive discussion about their primary campaign, about unifying the party and about the dangerous threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation.”
Sanders is set to address his followers on Thursday night in a livestream address.
On some issues, Sanders remains combative. In a news conference Tuesday, he reiterated his demand that the Democratic National Committee leadership, including its chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., resign. He and his followers have said the DNC has been biased toward Clinton, which Wasserman Schultz has denied.
On MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz said she planned to stick out her term, which began in the spring of 2011. Party chairs generally switch out after general elections and are chosen by the party’s presidential nominee.