WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are set to meet on Tuesday evening after voting concludes in Washington, D.C.’s primary nominating contest, marking the end of a fierce battle for the party’s mantle.
Clinton has all but wrapped up the Democratic nomination for the White House already after a string of wins since February, and is hoping for Sanders’ support as she prepares to take on Republican Donald Trump in November’s election.
The meeting between Clinton and Sanders was planned on June 7 when the former secretary of state secured enough delegates to become the presumed Democratic nominee, scoring victories in heavily populated states California and New Jersey.
“Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders agreed to meet when she called him last Tuesday night,” a Clinton campaign official told Reuters. “She looks forward to the opportunity to discuss how they can advance their shared commitment to a progressive agenda, and work together to stop Donald Trump in the general election,” the official added.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, is facing pressure from Democrats to formally concede in the drawn-out Democratic primary and begin working with Clinton to unify the party and take on Trump.
He promised supporters that he would remain in the race until every vote was cast, and that he would continue to push his self-styled Democratic socialist agenda – which focuses on wealth inequality, health, education and the environment – at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Top Democrats took steps last week to begin rallying behind Clinton, however, and ease Sanders out of the race without alienating his supporters.
President Barack Obama endorsed Clinton last Thursday, hours after meeting with Sanders at the White House. Sanders also went to Capitol Hill to meet with Senator Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate. Reid said after that meeting that Sanders had accepted Clinton was the nominee.
Clinton also last week secured the endorsement of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who remained neutral in the primary race until it was clear Clinton would be the nominee. Warren’s populist credentials will boost Clinton’s ability to court Sanders voters.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Marguerita Choy)