Addressing his supporters via livestream, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said his top priority is making sure Republican Donald Trump is defeated in November, but he stopped short of endorsing Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
Although the primaries are over and Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders told supporters on June 16 that his "revolution" is just getting started.
While Sanders said the ultimate goal is preventing Trump from moving into the Oval Office, his short-term goal is to nudge his party to the left on key issues like poverty and the influence of money in politics, The New York Times reported.
“Defeating Donald Trump cannot be our only goal,” Sanders said. “We must continue our grass-roots efforts to create the America that we know we can become. And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia.”
The Sanders campaign told The New York Times that more than 218,000 people viewed his address, but the paper noted that major cable networks, like Fox News and CNN, did not broadcast his speech.
Still, with more than 12 million individual voters supporting Sanders in the primaries, Sanders signaled that he intended to use every bit of his leverage to influence the Democratic platform going forward.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Washington Post it was Clinton who faced the “tremendous burden” of convincing millions of Sanders supporters that she deserves their votes and understands their concerns after the Vermont senator hammered her for the better part of a year over issues like her close ties with Wall Street.
Sanders also wants his party to support a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, and wants Clinton to break with President Barack Obama on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. Clinton, initially a supporter of the deal, said during the campaign that she was opposed to it.
For passionate Sanders supporters like 43-year-old Jessica Stokey, the end of the Sanders campaign was an emotional moment. Stokey fought back tears when Sanders spoke.
“I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but it looked to me like the bags under his eyes got bigger and his face grew more thin,” she told The New York Times. “That’s when I started crying.”