President Obama met Thursday with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Oval Office and then endorsed his rival Hillary Clinton in a video posted on her campaign’s Facebook page. Clinton also picked up an endorsement from progressive favorite, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Sanders has said he wants the Democratic Party to adopt much of his platform at the Democratic National Convention, and has been allowed to appoint five people to the 15-member platform drafting committee, which met for the first time this week. The Sanders campaign was always “about building a force for change inside and outside the party,” notes Larry Cohen, senior adviser to Sanders, past president of Communications Workers of America and the first superdelegate for Bernie Sanders. We are also joined by Michelle Chan, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Action. She is working on recommendations for environmentalist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, one of Sanders’ selections on the Democratic platform drafting committee. Climate activists have delivered more than 90,000 petitions to the DNC demanding the party’s platform for the 2016 race include a nationwide ban on fracking, which Sanders has backed, while Clinton has focused on the need for regulating the industry.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Washington, D.C. Before heading to Louisville for the funeral of Muhammad Ali, we begin with the 2016 presidential race. On Thursday, here in the nation’s capital, President Obama met with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Oval Office. The meeting came two days after several media outlets reported Clinton had reached the number of delegates needed to capture the nomination, putting her on a path to be the first woman ever nominated by a major party to run for the White House. Less than an hour and a half after meeting with Sanders, President Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton in a video posted on her campaign’s Facebook page.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to congratulate Hillary Clinton on making history as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Look, I know how hard this job can be. That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.
AMY GOODMAN: The president’s video message was aimed in part at millions of Sanders supporters. Obama said Sanders could play a central role in shaping the Democratic agenda.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I had a great meeting with him this week, and I thanked him for shining a spotlight on issues like economic inequality and the outsize influence of money in our politics, and bringing young people into the process. Embracing that message is going to help us win in November.
AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton picked up another endorsement Thursday from a progressive favorite, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. On Thursday, Bernie Sanders also met with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. While reporters took pictures, Sanders ignored three questions about Obama’s endorsement of Clinton. Later, he delivered a nearly hour-long speech to thousands of supporters at a rally here in Washington, D.C., ahead of the district’s primary election on Tuesday. Sanders did not mention Hillary Clinton by name.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We can bail out Wall Street, no problem. We can give tax breaks to billionaires, no problem. But somehow, when it comes to rebuilding inner cities in America, providing good education, good healthcare, affordable housing, somehow we seem not to have the money. And what this campaign is about is making it clear: Together, we are going to change our national priorities. … This campaign is based on a vision that our country must focus on social justice, on economic justice, on racial justice, on environmental justice. And when the overwhelming majority of young people support that vision, that will be the future of America.
AMY GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders has said he wants the Democratic Party to adopt much of his platform at the Democratic National Convention. He’s been allowed to appoint five people to the 15-member platform drafting committee, which has been meeting for the first time this week here in Washington, D.C.
For more, we’re joined in D.C. by two guests. Larry Cohen is with us, senior adviser to Bernie Sanders and past president of the Communications Workers of America, first superdelegate for Bernie Sanders. And Michelle Chan, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Action, she’s working on recommendations for environmentalist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, one of Sanders’ selections on the Democratic platform drafting committee.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Larry Cohen, let’s begin with you. What happened yesterday, after President Obama met with Bernie Sanders and then endorsed Hillary Clinton? What is Bernie Sanders’ position right now? As he says, yes, he is running in the Democratic—in the primary in D.C. next Tuesday. Then what?
LARRY COHEN: Well, from the beginning, our message has been every voter, every delegate. It was not just about Bernie being the next president, it was also about building a force for change inside and outside the Democratic Party. And as historic as Hillary’s campaign has been, Bernie’s campaign is also historic, in that, you know, without any super PACs, without the billionaires, building this kind of massive voter base, almost 11 million voters, raising $220 million. And we will go to Philadelphia with not only a message, but proposals to change the party. The platform that Michelle is working on, in many ways, we expect it to be a very different platform. We want to see the Democratic Party be a populist party, not a party of the financial elite.
AMY GOODMAN: So what’s your reaction to President Obama and then, well, a progressive favorite, Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, who is meeting with Hillary Clinton today—there’s all sorts of talk: Could she be a vice-presidential running mate? What’s your reaction to their endorsement of Hillary Clinton yesterday?
LARRY COHEN: Well, I mean, our reaction is that this is to be expected, to some extent, given what’s happened this week, and that, at the same time, our supporters are quite energetic about continuing on, again, inside the Democratic Party and beyond, focusing on issues, other candidates, as well as Bernie’s own nomination and his own support.