Why Hillary Clinton isn’t pushing Bernie Sanders to exit race

(CNN)Hillary Clinton is itching to take on Donald Trump in a one-on-one contest for the White House — but she isn’t pushing Bernie Sanders off the stage yet.

Democrats close to Clinton and the man who could become a top surrogate — President Barack Obama — insist they won’t pressure the Vermont senator to leave. That reluctance is based on fear inside the Democratic establishment that such a move would make it more difficult to unite the party later this year.
    Clinton needs the excited supporters that have rallied around Sanders and hopes treating the senator’s campaign respectfully will make them more likely to back her against Trump. Clinton has already started to make overtures to Sanders’ supporters — pledging to support them even if they don’t support her — and campaign aides have said those will continue in the coming weeks.
    Clinton on Wednesday told CNN’s Anderson Cooper said she isn’t pushing Sanders to hurry up.
    “I’m not calling myself that (the presumptive nominee),” Clinton said. “I know there are some contests ahead and I respect Sen. Sanders and whatever choices he’s making. And I have a lot of empathy about this, Anderson. You know, I ran to the very end in 2008.”
    Obama’s White House agrees there’s no rush.
    “The key here is unifying the party,” said one Democrat familiar with the White House’s thinking. “So with that in mind, we are being careful to let the process play through and provide the space for there to be a unifying moment for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.”
    Both Obama and Biden have endorsed Democratic Senate candidates, and will likely continue eyeing down-ballot races. The President also remains a draw for deep-pocketed Democratic donors, and his fundraising schedule will continue apace in the coming months.
    With entire chapters of his presidential legacy riding on who succeeds him, no one has more stake in the party coming together than Obama. And as the Democrat that both Clinton and Sanders supporters can love, he stands the best shot at keeping the warring factions from inflicting mortal wounds.
    To that end, Democratic officials aligned with Obama say they’re closely watching Sanders’ tone as the race moves toward its final stages. But there’s zero effort to push the Vermont senator from the race — either explicitly or behind the scenes.
    The Clinton campaign has so far been effective at stopping high level surrogates and supporters from telling Sanders to get out of the way, and the White House has helped in the effort.
    Proof of that success: Even Priorities USA, the pro-Clinton super PAC that will spend millions to hit Trump and defend Clinton in the general, said Wednesday that they will not call on Sanders to get out.
    “Since the results in Arizona, our focus has been solely on the general election and preparing for the general election,” said Justin Barasky, the super PAC’s spokesman. “Nothing that happens in the coming weeks will change our focus from stopping Donald Trump. We expect Hillary to be the nominee.”

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    *