Expressions of Unity and a Shared Urgency as the Campaign Moves Forward
By Grace Bennett
Photos by Chad Kraus
Portsmouth, NH, July 11–During an organizing rally for Hillary Clinton packed with Hillary and Bernie supporters, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. It was real. It was unequivocal. And it was also full of kindness and genuine admiration expressed toward Hillary Clinton and her candidacy. And Hillary Clinton returned the favor expressing her own admiration and support for Sanders commending Sanders for his “passionate advocacy.” In their respective remarks, they each addressed the issues that have been central to their individual campaigns.
Key Democrats–Bill McKibben of 350.org and Jim Dean of Democracy for America–opened the rally, sending an undeniable signal to those gathered of the impending endorsement. Speeches followed by New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, who also announced her upcoming run for Senate, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Sanders did not present as a man defeated but rather as a man committed to continuing to shape the direction and future of this country. Hillary Clinton did not don any airs of victory but rather honored the legacy Bernie Sanders created while reaffirming the strengths and goals of her own campaign.
Indeed, there was something much more powerful at play today between the two candidates than the endorsement itself, however monumental it may have felt to some. They each conveyed a sense of urgency for America, if you will, to persuade the American public to embrace one of the most progressive Democratic platforms ever penned, and to unite in earnest together against Trump, his dangerous ascent to presumptive Republican nominee, and very importantly as well, to work like gangbusters to create a House and Senate ruled by Democrats.
The Senator from Vermont and the two-time Senator and Secretary of State, in both their speeches, moved past the endorsement to underscore the array of challenges America faces and to elucidate just what is at stake with a Donald Trump presidency.
“We won in 22 states,” Sanders began emphasizing the successes of his campaign which he said will show we won almost 1900 delegates, “far more than almost anyone we could have. But it is not enough to win the nomination. Secretary Clinton goes into convention with 389 more pledged delegates than we have.
“She will be the democratic nominee for president. And I intend to do everything I can to make sure she will be the next president of the United States.”
“I have come here today to not talk about the past but to focus on the future.”
Sanders said that for him the election was never about the candidates, themselves, but rather a “profound lesson he had learned” that the election was “about the needs of the American people.”
“I am here to make it clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president. I have had the extraordinary opportunity to speak to more than 1.4 million Americans at rallies in almost every state of our country and to thousands of other people in small gatherings.
“In addressing the very serious crises that we face, there is no doubt in my mind that as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.”
The signs of a coming endorsement were undeniable after Bill McKibben, the first to speak, took to the mic. He had also been the first to introduce Bernie Sanders after he announced his campaign for president. He recalled a gathering of 5,000 people on Lake Champlain that (he admitted to his own surprise) grew to a movement that “went on to transform American politics.”
“Lots of the ideas that some suspected were on the fringe that turned out to be dead center,” he said. “We see those ideas perfected in the charter document of the democratic party.”
The evolution of the charter included he said going “from thinking of natural gas as a bridge to the future to a platform that gives clear priority to the awesome power of the wind and the sun.”
He called the shifts of thinking in areas of education, health care, and the economy, “a great gift to this party reconnecting it to millions of formerly apathetic voters.”
The greatest gift of all “not to be squandered,” he said, was “the mobilization of millions of young people.
“They have turned out in the millions ready for the first time to believe in the political process and we dare not disappoint them.”
And speaking subliminally to Bernie supporters even as some hissing and boos ensued, “Secretary Clinton: We now wish you god speed in the fight that now moves us.”
To that, Hillary supporters cheered loudly. The endorsement promised to be powerful and strong.
“Every decent American when they search their innermost heart knows full well that Donald Trump is unfit by intellect, temperament and character to be president of the United States,” said McKibben.
He said Republicans continue to “throw up their smokescreen of bigotry and fear; everyone needs to join in the noble quest to cut through that smoke for a brighter future.”
He invoked a sibling bond to beseech Sanders and his supporters to continue what they started.
“Brother Bernie: Even if you are a little tired, there is no rest of the weary.”
“You are our leader in the fight to flush out the 1 percent. In the battle to save the climate in the ongoing effort well begun in the last 14 months, to truly transform America. He described Sanders’ most “selfless campaign of my lifetime., the campaign of “Not me, us.”
Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America, which has about a million members, was next. “This Democratic party is always at its best when it’s not afraid to compete publicly for the best ideas and for best people,” he said. “We are at our best when we are having these debates; we are at our best when we push the envelope.”
“For every single one of us in the room: only time we have ever been defeated for justice in this country is when we have given up; this is the beginning, not the end.”
Governor Maggie Hassan noted that both candidates focused on the critical issues facing our families and small business. “They engaged in a spirited debate that we can all be proud of.”
She said she wanted to particularly thank Sanders “for his focus on making college more affordable for all of our families.
“We are all here today to send a powerful message that our party is united and strong.
“From the energy and passion and unity here today, we are ready to elect strong democrat leaders up and down the ticket this November.
“Hillary has a clear vision for opportunity for building a stronger, more prosperous America. Hillary’s vision and steady hand is in stark contrast from what we see from Donald Trump. Throughout her entire life, Hillary Clinton has been a champion for hardworking families.
“Meanwhile, Donald Trump has shown that he looks out only for himself no matter who gets hurt. Hillary wants to make sure that all Americans are included in our shared success, regardless of their race, gender religion, race, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Donald Trump is focused on tearing us apart. She understands what it takes to wipe ISIS off the map and keep our nation safe. While Trump has demonstrated that he is temperamentally unfit to serve as commander in chief.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen took to the stage first expressing her excitement over Governor Hassan’s run for Senate.
“Maggie has lead New Hampshire with a steady hand and steady vision. She and all the other Democrat candidates here today need your energy and support so we can be successful on election day in November.
“There’s no more frightening reminder of the stakes than the events we watched unfold over the past week; the seemingly daily barrage of gun violence culminating with attacks on our police officers.”
At that point, some in the crowd began chanting “Black Lives Matter.” To which Shaheen offered, “Absolutely Black Lives Matter!”
“Even as we mourn, there are those using the despicable act in Dallas to further divide us. Well, don’t let it happen.
“While we are glad to be here to unite our Democrat family, our goal needs to be to unite our American family.
She spoke of Trump’s “violent rhetoric” that “makes him unfit for the highest office in the land… “unfit to the international challenges we face, income equality and climate change.
“Donald Trump believes NATO is obsolete; he has praised Putin, Sadaam Hussein, and he wants to spread nuclear weapons around the world. Donald Trump is unfit to be commander in chief.
“We are all in this together; we can only move forward together. Hillary Clinton, she said, built her campaign around that ethic. And these are the same values that Bernie brought to his campaign.
“I know how passionately he cares about his campaign energizing young people. That same energy, she concluded, will help defeat Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton the first woman president.”
Sanders before stating his endorsement emphasized that “together we will continue to fight for a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent, a government based on the principles, of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
“It is very easy to forget and Republicans want us to forget where we were 7 ½ years ago when President Obama came into office.
“As result of greed, recklessness, illegal behavior on Wall Street, our country has experienced the worst economic downturn since great Depression. 800,000 people were losing their jobs…. The World’s financial system was on verge of collapse; we have come a long way in the last seven and a half years and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of their terrible depression. We can all agree much more needs to be done. Too many Americans are still being left out and ignored. There is too much poverty, too much despair in the richest country in the world.”
He spoke of a “single mother in Nevada with tears in her eyes who told me she was scared to death of her future cause she and her daughter were not making is on $10.45 an hour. This election is about that woman and millions of workers falling further and further behind.”
Sanders expressed his conviction that Hillary Clinton would take steps to rectify chronic disparities.
“Hillary Clinton understands that we need to fix a rigged economy that sends almost all of the wealth and income to the top 1 percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes, we all believe, that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”
“She wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our waste water plants.
“Donald Trump has a very different view: he believes states should have the right to lower the minimum wage or even abolish the concept of a minimum wage.
“If elected, we will see no increase of fed wage of $7.25 an hour, a starvation wage.
“This election is about who will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United, a decision which is allowing billionaires to buy elections and undermining our democracy.
“This election is about who will appoint a Justice on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman’s right to choose, who will defend the rights of the LGBT community, workers rights, rights of minorities and immigrants and who will protect the environment.”
Speaking to those contemplating sitting out the 2016 election, Sanders reminded everyone to think about civil liberties, equal rights and the future of the country.
He reassured his supporters that Hillary’s campaign is “about moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or underinsured.”
“Hillary Clinton wants to see that all have a right to choose a public option in their health care. She believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt into Medicare.
“She wants to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low cost prescription products. She wants to see a dramatic expansion of community health centers throughout this country. Hillary Clinton wants to see doctors, nurses, dentists and mental health professions serve in underserved areas as we follow through.”
He said Trump harbors “the same old contempt for working families. He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act and throw 20 million people off health care they have and cut Medicaid for low income Americans.
“The last thing we need is a president who doesn’t care whether millions of Americans will lose access to health care coverage they desperately need. We need more people with access to quality health care, not fewer.”
Hillary Clinton, he said, understands that seniors and vets struggle with outrageously high cost of prescription drugs, and that the two agree that “Medicare must negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and that they must expand use of generic medicine.”
“Drug companies should not be able to make billions of dollars in profit while one in five Americans are not able to afford the medicines they need.”
For Sanders, our country’s problems flow from “the grotesque level of wealth and inequality that currently exist; worst in our country since 1923.
He warned of Trump’s “reckless economic policies” that “ will not only exacerbate inequality but will increase our national debt by trillions of dollars.”
He brought up his call for “the best educated work force in a highly competitive global economy” and said that “Hillary Clinton also believes we must substantially lower student debt and make colleges and universities tuition free.”
“When every child in this country regardless of his or her family’s income, knows if they take school seriously, then yes, they will be able to get a college education.
“This election is about climate change: our greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the way to leave the world in a way that’s healthy and habitable for our children and for future generations.
“Hillary Clinton is listening to scientists telling us: If we do not act boldly in near future, we risk more droughts, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels.”
Hillary Clinton knows, he said, “of the need to “transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. When we do that we can create a whole lot of good paying jobs. Donald Trump, like most Republicans, is tragically choosing to reject science. He believes it is a hoax; in fact wants to expand use of fossil fuels. That would be a disaster for our country and for an entire planet.”
This election is about the leadership we need to pass immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system, he said, and “make sure young people in this country are in good school and good jobs, not in jail cells.”
“We do not need to have more people in jail at expense of $80 billion a year.
“In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing us together, not dividing us up. Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans and Muslims and women and African Americans…
Hillary Clinton understands our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Black white, Latino, Asian American, Native American…we become stronger together…gay and straight.
“Our job is now to see that platform implemented by a Democrat controlled Senate, a Democratically-controlled House and the Hillary Clinton presidency.
“I plan to be in every corner of this country to make certain that happens.
And then he spoke of Hillary Clinton on a more personal level.
“I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. We were a bit younger then,” he kibitzed.
“I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role a first lady, and led the fight for universal health care.
“I served with her in the U.S. Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of our children.”
“I know her and we all know her as one of the most intelligent people I have ever met
“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her today.”
And then it was Hillary’s turn.
A partial transcript of Hillary Clinton’s remarks capping off the rally:
“Throughout this campaign Senator Sanders has brought people off the sidelines and into the political process. He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country, and are building a movement that is bigger than one candidate or one campaign.
So thank you, thank you Bernie – for your endorsement, but more than that, thank you for your lifetime of fighting injustice. I am proud to be fighting alongside you because my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together. These have been difficult times for America.
This is a time for all of us to stand together – because these have been difficult days for our country.
Taking on the systemic racism that plagues our country – and rebuilding the frayed bonds of trust and respect between law enforcement and the communities they serve – will require contributions from all of us. And we have to begin by starting to listen to each other. And more than that, we then have to do something that will help us fix these problems.
We have to reform our broken criminal justice system, take back our democracy from the wealthy special interests, and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. And you know what? We have to do all these things at the same time.
That’s why throughout this campaign, we’ve been calling for eliminating racial profiling and disparities in sentencing. Ending the era of mass incarceration, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, providing more employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.
In addition to that, I am proposing two new steps that get law enforcement the support they need while also stopping the tragedy, the tragedy of black men and women – and black children – being killed in police incidents.
First, let’s bring law enforcement and the communities they swear to protect and serve together to develop national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.
And second, let’s provide better training on implicit bias, that remains a problem even in our best police departments but it also remains a problem across our society.
I’m asking for all of us to really search our hearts and minds to make sure that we don’t have those implicit biases. Let’s learn from police departments like Dallas that had made strong progress, and apply their lessons nationwide. Because everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone is respected by the law.
Remember, when gunfire broke out in Dallas, the peaceful protestors and the crowds that had gathered to support them ran to safety, while the police officers – who just minutes before had been talking with and taking pictures with and protecting the protesters – the police officers ran the other way – they ran into the gunfire. That’s the kind of courage and dedication our police and first responders show every single day.
So yes – let’s take real, meaningful action to end the epidemic of gun violence in America. From Sandy Hook to Orlando to Dallas, and so many other places, these tragedies tear at our soul. And so do the incidents that don’t even dominate the headlines. Just this past Sunday, a young man, Seth Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee to expand voting rights, was shot and killed in his neighborhood in Washington. He was just 27 years old.
Surely we can agree that weapons of war have no place on the streets of America. Our police and first responders should never have to face a madman, a racist, a person filled with hatred, with an assault weapon. We owe it to every officer who puts his or her life on the line to protect us – so let’s protect them.
And we can’t stop there. This is part of a broader challenge across our country. Inequality is too high, wages are too low, and it is just too hard to get ahead for too many Americans.
We need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. Not just the millionaires and billionaires but everybody.
And to do that, we need to go big and we need to go bold. This isn’t a time for half measures. So we are setting five ambitious goals.
For starters, in my first 100 days as President, we will make the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.
More jobs here in New Hampshire and across our country, especially in places that have been left out and left behind. In communities of color. In coal country. Indian Country. Everywhere where a person deserves the same shot at the American Dream as anybody else in our country.
And when I say good-paying jobs, I mean it. As Bernie said, Donald Trump thinks wages are too high. He actually stood on a debate stage and said so. He does want to get rid of the federal minimum wage altogether.
Well, both Senator Sanders and I believe anyone who is willing to work hard should be able to find a job that pays well enough to support a family. And Bernie is right – $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. So sorry Donald, if you’re watching, we’re not cutting the minimum wage – we’re raising the minimum wage.
We’re going to create millions of good jobs by making America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. As Bernie reminds us so powerfully, we owe it to future generations to work together to combat climate change. And we’re going to do it. We’ve got the intelligence. We’ve got the innovation. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and demonstrate to the world what America is made of. We’re going to have that clean energy economy. We’re going to make it work for everybody.
And make no mistake – we will defend American jobs and American workers by saying ‘no’ to the assaults on the right to organize and bargain collectively. And we’re going to say ‘no’ to attacks on working families and ‘no’ to bad trade deals and unfair trade practices, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Second, we’re going to make college debt-free for all and help millions of people struggling with existing student debt save thousands of dollars.
Here in New Hampshire, students are carrying one of the highest debt loads in the country. I’ve heard from young people who can’t start a business, move out of their parents’ home, or even get married because of all the student debt holding them back.
So with your help, we’re going to make it so future students won’t have to borrow a dime to attend public colleges or universities. Thanks to the new proposal Senator Sanders and I worked on together, for families making less than $125,000 a year, we will eliminate tuition at those schools altogether. And we will do more to help students cover all the costs of getting an education – including books, supplies, and living expenses.
Because in the words of a student I met here in New Hampshire, ‘paying for college shouldn’t be the hardest thing about going to college.’
Third, we’re going to rewrite the rules, and crack down on companies that ship jobs and profits overseas. Let’s reward the companies that share profits with their employees instead.
And we will defend and strengthen the tough reforms President Obama put in place on the financial industry – not let Donald Trump tear them up. Because we do, we do need to make sure that Wall Street can never wreck Main Street again.
Number four, we’re going to make sure Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich pay their fair share of taxes. When people say the game is rigged, the best evidence is our tax code. It is riddled with scams, loopholes, and special breaks. It is wrong that some millionaires do pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, and we’re going to stop it.
Now compare what Senator Sanders and I intend to do with Donald Trump’s tax plan. His tax plan would make our current system even worse. Independent analysts say he would add $30 trillion to the national debt in order to give a massive gift to the wealthiest Americans, Wall Street money managers, and our largest corporations. But after all, what else should we expect from someone who calls himself ‘the King of Debt’?
Now we have been pointing out the problems with his tax plan for months. And I think Donald is starting to feel the pressure.
In fact, even as we speak, he’s apparently bringing in the biggest names in trickle-down, supply-side economics to help him figure out what to do – now these are the same advisors who brought us 30 years of a disastrous Republican philosophy that gave the huge breaks to those at the top.
Now you don’t have to be psychic to know what’s going to happen next: they’re going to come back with another plan with maybe some bells and whistles, Bernie, that tries to disguise the fact that they still are slashing taxes for the wealthy, large corporations, and Donald Trump himself. And they’ll try to use voodoo economics to tell us all the ways it will actually help the economy.
But they’re not fooling anybody, at least I hope they’re not. Just like his current plan – which he calls ‘inspiring,’ ‘tremendous,’ and ‘amazing’ – you know, he uses a lot of adjectives to avoid telling you any specifics. Here’s what we know for sure: whatever he comes out with next is going to give huge tax cuts to the corporations and the rich at the expense of the middle class.
Now there’s that old saying, you’ve heard it, I used to hear it a lot in Arkansas, you can put lipstick on a pig – but it’s still a pig.
And I’ve got to tell you, the first time that the Republicans pulled the voodoo economics, you know, they fooled us. Shame on them. But if they come back with the same argument and people fall for it, shame on us. But I will promise you this, Senator Sanders and I will spare no effort to make sure the people of America know that once again Trump and his cronies are trying to pull the wool over our eyes and come back with the same failed policies that hurt us before.
We’re not going to let them get away with it again.
And finally, our fifth goal is we’re going to step up and respond to the way American families actually live and work in the 21st century. Our families and our workplaces have changed, so isn’t it time for our policies to change too?
Let’s expand Social Security to match today’s realities, not cut or privatize it.
Let’s join the rest of the developed world and offer paid family leave.
And finally, let’s guarantee equal pay for women once and for all.
I can just envision the tweets Donald is putting together. And Donald Trump can accuse me of playing ‘the woman card’ all he wants. If fighting for equal pay and paid family leave is playing the woman card, then deal me in.
And I’ll tell you, these aren’t just my fights. These are Bernie’s fights. These are America’s fights. And I feel with all my being, these are fights we have to wage and win together.
As Bernie and his supporters have argued so eloquently, we won’t get anywhere unless we overhaul our campaign finance system.
It is past time to end the stranglehold of wealthy special interests in Washington, and get back to government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
That’s why as president from my very first days, I’ll make campaign finance reform a top priority. We will do everything we can to overturn Citizens United. And we will require everybody – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, whoever – to disclose their donors.
And while we’re at it, we are going to create a small-donor matching system to make it easy for more Americans to be elected at every level of government. Because just like Bernie, I’ve met so many people here in New Hampshire with great ideas for our country. I want to see you run for office and win.
And here’s another radical idea: Let’s make it easier to vote, not harder. Let’s fight back against attacks on voting rights across the country – attacks that disproportionately affect low-income voters, people of color, students, the elderly, and women.
That means we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and then keep going. All Americans should be automatically registered to vote on their 18th birthday. Every state should have at least 20 days of in-person voting. And no one in America should ever have to wait more than 30 minutes to cast their ballot.
So Senator Sanders and I will be working to get unaccountable money out of politics and the voices of everyday Americans back in.
Because as Bernie has said: This isn’t a progressive issue. It’s not a conservative issue. It’s an American issue.
And let me close with this: To everyone here and everyone across the country who poured your heart and soul into Senator Sanders’ campaign, thank you. Thank you. I was proud of the campaign we ran, it was a campaign about issues not insults. And our country desperately needs your voices and involvement and so does this campaign and so does the Democratic Party. Because you know what? we need to take back the Senate and take back the House and make sure we have Democratic governors and Democratic state legislators. Let’s open the doors to everyone who shares our progressive values.
This is one of the most important elections in our lifetimes. So I’m asking you to stand with us. And then, I’m asking you to keep working with me in the weeks, months, and, yes, years ahead. You will always have a seat at the table when I’m in the White House.
As Bernie will tell you, talk is cheap. We need to keep fighting to make sure everything we’ve stood for is real in the lives of people across America.”