Bernie Sanders has finally said he’ll vote for Hillary Clinton for president, after their long and contentious race in the Democratic primaries.
But Sanders has stopped short of endorsing her, which would encourage his supporters to vote for Clinton. And it remains to be seen if those supporters, including the LGBT ones, will come over to her.
Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, guest host Nicolle Wallace asked Sanders if he’ll vote for Clinton in November. “Yes,” the Vermont senator replied. “I think the issue right here is I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump. I think Trump, in so many ways, will be a disaster for this country if he were to be elected president. We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change.”
However, Sanders said he still isn’t withdrawing as a candidate, even though he recognizes Clinton will be the nominee. This is because he wants to have influence over the party platform at the convention in July, to make sure it addresses his concerns about economic inequality.
“Why would I want to [withdraw] when I want to fight to make sure that we have the best platform that we possibly can, that we win the most delegates that we can?” he said.
Both Sanders and Clinton are LGBT rights supporters. Clinton has received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest and most influential LGBT organization. Most polls have found her leading among LGBT voters, but Sanders does have a strong base of LGBT support. In February a Community Marketing and Insights survey covering 46 states found 48 percent of LGBT Americans favoring Clinton, 41 percent in the Sanders camp.
A Bloomberg Politics poll of likely voters, not just LGBT, found this month that only 55 percent of Sanders supporters overall intend to vote for Clinton. Bloomberg followed up by interviewing two dozen Sanders supporters. Those who saw they won’t vote for Clinton generally said they consider her too much of an establishment candidate, too beholden to corporate interests, and too hawkish in foreign policy matters. Several said they would vote instead for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, or even Trump.
“I’m a registered Democrat, but I cannot bring myself to vote for another establishment politician like Hillary,” Texan Laura Armes, who plans to vote for Trump, told Bloomberg. “I don’t agree with a lot of what Trump says. But he won’t owe anybody. What you see is what you get.”
But gay Latino Albert Arevalo saw it differently. “The party needs to be unified,” he said of the Democrats. “A vote for Trump would have me deported. ... A true Bernie fan would be stupid to not vote for a Democrat. By being ignorant and not voting you are electing a racist troll.”
In the Bloomberg poll, only 5 percent of the Sanders supporters who didn’t plan to vote for Clinton said they were likely to change their minds. But an endorsement from him could up this number. “I guess an endorsement would probably sway me,” Armes told the news service.
Polls do show Clinton ahead of Trump among general election voters, Bloomberg adds, “despite her weak showing with Sanders voters.”
Watch Sanders’s interview with Morning Joe below.